Meaning of LIFE in English

I. ˈlīf noun

( plural lives -īvz)

Etymology: Middle English lif, from Old English līf; akin to Old High German līb life, Old Norse līf life, Old English libban, lifian to live — more at live


a. : animate being : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body or purely chemical matter

life is the immediate gift of God — William Blackstone

my ability to give life to an animal — Mary W. Shelley

— compare death 1

b. : the principle or force by which animals and plants are maintained in the performance of their functions and which distinguishes by its presence animate from inanimate matter


(1) : the state of a material complex or individual characterized by the capacity to perform certain functional activities including metabolism, growth, reproduction, and some form of responsiveness or adaptability

(2) : a specific aspect of the process of living or performing the functions involved in living

the physical and emotional life of a boy — Harrison Smith

the cowboy's sex life was intermittent — D.B.Davis

2. : the course of existence : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual : the totality of actions and occurrences constituting an individual experience

emotions provoked by particular events in his life — T.S.Eliot

interests … that have occupied his life — F.R.Leavis

children … are the joy of our lives — Agnes S. Turnbull

3. : biography 1

a shilling life will give you all the facts — W.H.Auden

a full-length life


a. : the earthly state of human existence as distinguished from the spiritual state after death

all those who in this transitory life — Book of Com. Prayer

b. : a spiritual form of eternal existence transcending physical death

he who hears my word … has passed from death to life — Jn 5:24 (Revised Standard Version)

his craving … for release into the life to come — Rodney Gilbert


a. : the duration of the earthly existence of an individual ; specifically : the period from birth to death

his habits were such as promise a long life — T.B.Macaulay

early in life he had married

b. : a specific phase of earthly existence

parents … had more effect on your child life — Glamour (Australia)

especially : the period from an event until death

six senators appointed for life

c. : a sentence of imprisonment for the remaining portion of the convict's earthly existence

if found guilty … he could get life — George Quint

d. : continued existence and right to function (as in a political office)

the secretary of state … whose life depends on such a fickle thing as votes — E.O.Hauser

fighting for his political life — New York Times

6. : a way or manner of living ; especially : one associated with an occupation, location, or time

a continent where the rural life is predominant — P.E.James

she will have a wretched life with this young scamp — L.C.Douglas

the life of the colonists is visible to the eye — R.W.Hatch

7. : someone held to be as dear to one as existence — usually used as a term of endearment

my bride, my wife, my life — Alfred Tennyson

8. : something held to be essential to animate existence or to a livelihood

the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life — Jn 6:63 (Revised Standard Version)

the fishing village drew its life from the sea

9. : a vital or living being ; specifically : person

many youthful lives miss the opportunities for education — Ernest & Pearl Beaglehole

10. : the force or principle that animates and usually tends to shape the development of something

the life of the constitution … has been not logic but experience — F.A.Ogg & Harold Zink

11. : energy and liveliness in action, thought, or expression : animation , spirit

gives thy gestures grace and life — William Wordsworth

there was little life in her voice — Winston Churchill

there is still life in the old conceptions of loyalty — Leslie Rees

breathe life into books for children — Rumer Godden

12. : the form or pattern of something as it exists in reality

a drawing from the life

screen motion was a little faster and more jerky than life — Otis Ferguson

pictures show the family to the life — May L. Becker

13. : a person whose life is insured (as by a life-insurance policy) ; especially : one considered with regard to his prospects for a long existence

an insurance doctor had pronounced him a first-class life — E.M.Lustgarten


a. : the period of duration of something held to resemble a natural organism in structure or functions

throughout the life of the republic — C.L.Jones

ended the Labour government's life within … one year — Herbert Dorn

b. : the period of time during which a material object is fit for use or the efficient performance of its functions : the number of times an object may be used efficiently

the life of the road was hardly a year — American Guide Series: New Hampshire

the life of a battleship was set at twenty years — C.E.Black & E.C.Helmreich

tool life varied greatly with the microstructure of the steels being machined — F.H.Colvin

c. : the period of existence (as of an ion) — compare half-life

d. : the period of time during which a legal document or relationship (as a marriage) is in force and effect

e. : the period of time during which something (as a book or a play) continues to be popular

making a few books tremendously popular but shortening the lives of all — J.D.Hart

the permanent life of distinguished minor fiction — E.K.Brown

f. : the property (as resilience, elasticity, springiness) of an inanimate substance resembling the animate quality of a living being

the life of a bow

an elastic belt that had lost most of its life

g. : the length of time that the usefulness or quality of a packaged product lasts before deterioration begins

lengthen the life of packaged fresh meat cuts — V.J.Hillery

shelf life of baked pies — Lou Bisno

15. : living beings ; especially : the living things of a particular kind, quality, or environment

bird life

plant life

forest life


a. : human activities: as

(1) : the active or practical part of human existence

if a student is to be prepared for life , he must be prepared for making a living — Bulletin of Bates College

(2) : social activities

entered the life of the court

b. : the activity and movement characterizing the presence of living beings

sidewalk cafes just now stirring to midmorning life — P.E.Deutschman

c. : the activities of a given sphere, area, or time

economic and commercial life was almost wholly at a standstill — R.A.Hall b.1911

life in the Mediterranean war theater

participate in local, state, and national life — John Lodge

his private life

17. : one that inspires or excites spirit and vigor and is usually held to provide a principal basis for enjoyment or success

the life of the party

he was the life of the enterprise


a. : another chance or a continued opportunity given to one likely to lose ; especially : an opportunity given a batter in cricket and baseball to reach a base or to continue at bat because of a fielding error

b. : one of several turns limited in number by the rules of a game (as English pool) during which a player may continue in the game until he makes a mistake (as hitting the wrong ball or pocketing his own ball)

19. capitalized , Christian Science : god II b(6)

20. : something resembling animate life: as

a. : continued active existence and development

British Columbia's chance for a separate political life — R.W.Van Alstyne

upon circulation … the life and prosperity of a newspaper depends — F.L.Mott

b. : a state characterized by the functioning of the mechanical parts (as of a motor)

the engine coughed into life — B.R.Ingram

21. : conscious existence supposed to be a quality of the soul or as the soul's nature and being

- for dear life

- on your life

II. adjective

1. : of or relating to animate being

manifestations of life instincts — Abram Kardiner

life processes

2. : for or lasting throughout the duration of existence : lifelong

life income

life tenure

a life member

life aims

3. : using a living model

a life class

4. : of, relating to, or provided by life insurance

a life policy

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.