Definition of life noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    life

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//laɪf//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//laɪf//
     
    (pl. lives
    BrE BrE//laɪvz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//laɪvz//
     
    )
    Types of punishment
     
    jump to other results
    state of living
  1. 1  [uncountable] the ability to breathe, grow, reproduce, etc. which people, animals and plants have before they die and which objects do not have life and death The body was cold and showed no signs of life. My father died last year—I wish I could bring him back to life. In spring the countryside bursts into life.
  2. 2  [uncountable, countable] the state of being alive as a human; an individual person’s existence The floods caused a massive loss of life (= many people were killed). He risked his life to save his daughter from the fire. Hundreds of lives were threatened when the building collapsed. The operation saved her life. My grandfather lost his life (= was killed) in the war. Several attempts have been made on the President's life (= several people have tried to kill him).
  3. living things
  4. 3  [uncountable] living things plant/animal life marine/pond life Is there intelligent life on other planets? CollocationsThe living worldAnimals animals mate/​breed/​reproduce/​feed (on something) fish/​amphibians swim/​spawn (= lay eggs) birds fly/​migrate/​nest/​sing insects crawl/​fly/​bite/​sting insects/​bees/​locusts swarm bees collect/​gather nectar/​pollen spiders spin/​weave a web snakes/​lizards shed their skins bears/​hedgehogs/​frogs hibernate insect larvae grow/​develop/​pupate an egg/​a chick/​a larva hatches attract/​find/​choose a mate produce/​release eggs/​sperm lay/​fertilize/​incubate/​hatch eggs inhabit a forest/​a reef/​the coast mark/​enter/​defend (a) territory stalk/​hunt/​capture/​catch/​kill preyPlants and fungi trees/​plants grow/​bloom/​blossom/​flower a seed germinates/​sprouts leaves/​buds/​roots/​shoots appear/​develop/​form flower buds swell/​open a fungus grows/​spreads/​colonizes something pollinate/​fertilize a flower/​plant produce/​release/​spread/​disperse pollen/​seeds/​spores produce/​bear fruit develop/​grow/​form roots/​shoots/​leaves provide/​supply/​absorb/​extract/​release nutrients perform/​increase/​reduce photosynthesisBacteria and viruses bacteria/​microbes/​viruses grow/​spread/​multiply bacteria/​microbes live/​thrive in/​on something bacteria/​microbes/​viruses evolve/​colonize something/​cause disease bacteria break something down/​convert something (into something) a virus enters/​invades something/​the body a virus mutates/​evolves/​replicates (itself) be infected with/​contaminated with/​exposed to a new strain of a virus/​drug-resistant bacteria contain/​carry/​harbour (especially US English) harbor bacteria/​a virus kill/​destroy/​eliminate harmful/​deadly bacteria
  5. period of time
  6. 4  [countable, uncountable] the period between somebody’s birth and their death; a part of this period He's lived here all his life. I've lived in England for most of my life. to have a long/short life He became very weak towards the end of his life. Brenda took up tennis late in life. He will spend the rest of his life (= until he dies) in a wheelchair. There's no such thing as a job for life any longer. She is a life member of the club. in early/adult life see also change of life
  7. 5  [countable] (used with an adjective) a period of somebody’s life when they are in a particular situation or job She has been an accountant all her working life. He met a lot of interesting people during his life as a student. They were very happy throughout their married life.
  8. 6  [countable] the period of time when something exists or functions The International Stock Exchange started life as a London coffee shop. They could see that the company had a limited life (= it was going to close). In Italy the average life of a government is eleven months. see also shelf life
  9. punishment
  10. 7[uncountable] the punishment of being sent to prison for life; life imprisonment The judge gave him life. She is doing life for murder. See related entries: Types of punishment
  11. experience/activities
  12. 8  [uncountable] the experience and activities that are typical of all people’s existences the worries of everyday life He is young and has little experience of life. Commuting is a part of daily life for many people. Jill wants to travel and see life for herself. We bought a dishwasher to make life easier. In London life can be hard. In real life (= when she met him) he wasn't how she had imagined him at all. Life can be difficult when you move to a new town. Life isn't like in the movies, you know.
  13. 9  [uncountable, countable] the activities and experiences that are typical of a particular way of living country/city life She enjoyed political life. family/married life How do you find life in Japan?
  14. 10  [countable] a person’s experiences during their life; the activities that form a particular part of a person’s life He has had a good life. a hard/an easy life My day-to-day life is not very exciting. a life of luxury Her daily life involved meeting lots of people. She lived a quiet life in the countryside. Many of these children have led very sheltered lives (= they have not had many different experiences). They emigrated to start a new life in Canada. He doesn't like to talk about his private life. She has a full social life. articles about the love lives of the stars see also sex life
  15. energy/excitement
  16. 11  [uncountable] the quality of being active and exciting synonym vitality This is a great holiday resort that is full of life.
  17. in art
  18. 12[uncountable] a living model or a real object or scene that people draw or paint She had lessons in drawing from life. a life class (= one in which art students draw a naked man or woman) see also still life
  19. story of life
  20. 13[countable] a story of somebody’s life synonym biography She wrote a life of Mozart.
  21. in children’s games
  22. 14[countable] one of a set number of chances before a player is out of a game He's lost two lives, so he's only got one left.
  23. Word Origin Old English līf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lijf, German Leib ‘body’, also to live1.Extra examples He always believed in living life to the full. He always had a great love of life. He built his whole life around his children. He devoted his life to the education of deaf children. He ended his life a happy man. He gave up his high-flying job and now enjoys a better quality of life. He had been leading a double life, married to two women. He hopes the development will breathe new life into the community. He lost his life in an air crash. He met the love of his life at college. He never discussed the unhappiness of his past life. He never let his work dominate his life. He ruined his life through drinking. He spent his whole life in Cornwall. He was a miner all his working life. He’ll be haunted by the crash for the rest of his life. Her paintings became more obscure towards the end of her life. His fame was so sudden that he was unprepared for public life. His foolishness almost cost him his life. His time in London was his first glimpse of the seamier side of life. I had the fright of my life when I saw the snake in my bed. I owe my life to the the doctors at the hospital. I think I may have been an animal in a previous life. I wanted to see something of life before I settled down. I’ve always had a fairly optimistic outlook on life. I’ve known her all my life. In later life he took up writing. It’s nice to see an old man still so full of life. Japanese people have a very high life expectancy. Learning meditation changed her life. No lives were lost in the accident. Only his wife had access to his inner life. She begged the soldiers to spare her son’s life. She clung to life for several weeks. She did not tolerate press intrusion into her private life. She discovered jazz quite late in life. She is still rebuilding her life after the accident. She leads a busy social life. She loved the Spanish way of life and immediately felt at home there. She risked her life for the sake of the children. She sensed she was entering a new phase in her life. She thought marriage should be for life. She took her own life. She went through life always wanting what she couldn’t get. She’s critically ill, on life support. The city only comes to life at night. The crash claimed 43 lives. The driver showed no signs of life. The hotel started life as a prison. The pace of life is much gentler on the island. The plane crashed with heavy loss of life. There has only been one woman in her life. There have been three attempts on the president’s life. These talks are a matter of life and death for the factory. They both seem to want the same things out of life. They need some new, younger staff to breathe some life into the company. They went to Australia to start a new life. They were enjoying the high life in the smartest hotels of New York. They’re living a life of luxury in the Bahamas. Throughout her life she was dogged by loneliness. Witnesses are living in fear for their life after giving evidence against the gang. You’re still in the prime of life. a child bursting with life a drug that will save lives a life-support machine a real-life drama anti-abortionists campaigning for the right to life for the first time in her life Bad posture is one of the causes of back pain in later life. He doesn’t like to talk about his private life. He has had a hard life. He is young and has little experience of life. He met a lot of interesting people during his life as a student. He said the men had threatened his life. He spent his entire adult life in France. He will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He’s lived here all his life. How do you find life in America? I’ve lived in England for most of my life. In Italy at that time the average life of a government was eleven months. In real life he wasn’t how she had imagined him at all. Life isn’t like in the movies, you know. Many of these children have led very sheltered lives. My father died last year—I wish I could bring him back to life. My grandfather lost his life in the Second World War. My mother took up tennis late in life. She has a full social life. She has been an accountant all her working life. She led a life of luxury. The International Stock Exchange started life as a London coffee shop. The body was cold and showed no signs of life. The floods caused a massive loss of life. The operation saved her life. The product has a guaranteed shelf life of 60 days. The worries of everyday life can become unbearable for people with this condition. There’s no such thing as a job for life any longer. They emigrated to start a new life in America. They were very happy throughout their married life. We bought a dishwasher to make life easier. We need to inject some new life into this project. Yet more species of plant and animal life die out as their very specialized habitat is disturbed. You mustn’t let anyone know— it’s a matter of life and death. pond lifeIdioms
    at my, your, his, etc. time of life
     
    jump to other results
    at the age you are (especially when you are not young) Eyesight doesn't get any better at my time of life.
    be the most important person or thing to somebody My children are my life. Writing is his life.
    breathe (new) life into something
     
    jump to other results
    to improve something by introducing new ideas and making people more interested in it The results of their research have breathed new life into the debate.
    the breath of life to/for somebody
     
    jump to other results
    (literary) an essential part of a person’s existence Playing the violin has been the breath of life to her for over 20 years.
    bring somebody/something to life
     
    jump to other results
    to make somebody/something more interesting or exciting The new teacher really brought French to life for us. Flowers can bring a dull room back to life.
    1. 1to become more interesting, exciting or full of activity The match finally came to life in the second half.
    2. 2to start to act or move as if alive In my dream all my toys came to life.
    to die. People say depart this life to avoid saying die. See related entries: Death an unhappy life, full of problems or unfair treatment He led poor Amy a dog’s life. She was desperately lonely, poor dear.
    end your days/life (in something)
     
    jump to other results
    to spend the last part of your life in a particular state or place He ended his days in poverty.
    a situation that cannot be changed, especially one that is unpleasant It’s a fact of life that some people will always be racist. the details about sex and about how babies are born, especially as told to children to make a great effort to stay alive, especially when you are badly injured or seriously ill A young cyclist is fighting for his life after the accident. See related entries: Being ill
    for dear life, for your life
     
    jump to other results
    as hard or as fast as possible She was holding on to the rope for dear life. Run for your life!
    (informal) however hard you try I cannot for the life of me imagine why they want to leave.
    frighten/scare the life out of somebody
     
    jump to other results
    to frighten somebody very much You scared the life out of me coming in so suddenly like that.
    having a lot of energy (informal) used to tell somebody to stop being boring and to do something more interesting Do us all a favour… get a life! (especially of a cat) to be very lucky in dangerous situations
    have the time of your life
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) to enjoy yourself very much have the time of your lifeplay
    feeling frightened that you might be killed See related entries: Fear (British English) a method of helping somebody who has stopped breathing to breathe again by placing your mouth on theirs and forcing air into their lungs (humorous) used to show surprise at seeing somebody/something I hadn’t seen her for fifteen years and then there she was, (as) large as life. looking or behaving in a way that is more interesting or exciting than other people, and so is likely to attract attention synonym flamboyant He's a larger than life character.
    lay down your life (for somebody/something)
     
    jump to other results
    (literary) to die in order to save somebody/something synonym sacrifice They were prepared to lay down their lives for their country.
    lead/live the life of Riley
     
    jump to other results
    (old-fashioned, often disapproving) to live an enjoyable and comfortable life with no problems or responsibilities The two crooks had been living the life of Riley. He planned to retire early and then lead the life of Riley.
    a (new) lease of life(British English)(North American English a (new) lease on life)
     
    jump to other results
    the chance to live or last longer, or with a better quality of life Since her hip operation she's had a new lease of life.
    the possibility or belief that people continue to exist in some form after they die Do you believe in life after death?
    the life and soul of the party, etc.
     
    jump to other results
    (British English) the most amusing and interesting person at a party, etc.
    (disapproving) used to say that there is a situation in which it is not thought to be important if people somewhere die or are treated badly
    (have) a life of its own
     
    jump to other results
    (of an object) seeming to move or function by itself without a person touching or working it
    (informal) used to say that it is not worth wasting time doing something that you dislike or that is not important
    the light of somebody’s life
     
    jump to other results
    the person somebody loves more than any other
    make life difficult (for somebody)
     
    jump to other results
    to cause problems for somebody She does everything she can to make life difficult for him.
    make somebody’s life a misery
     
    jump to other results
    to behave in a way that makes somebody else feel very unhappy
    the man/woman in your life
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) the man or woman that you are having a sexual or romantic relationship with Anna has a new man in her life.
    a matter of life and death
     
    jump to other results
    used to describe a situation that is very important or serious
    not be able to do something to save your life
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) to be completely unable to do something He can't interview people to save his life.
    (informal) used to refuse very firmly to do something
    risk life and limb, risk your neck
     
    jump to other results
    to risk being killed or injured in order to do something She risked life and limb to save her children from the fire. More Like This Alliteration in idioms belt and braces, black and blue, born and bred, chalk and cheese, chop and change, done and dusted, down and dirty, in dribs and drabs, eat somebody out of house and home, facts and figures, fast and furious, first and foremost, forgive and forget, hale and hearty, hem and haw, kith and kin, mix and match, part and parcel, puff and pant, to rack and ruin, rant and rave, risk life and limb, short and sweet, signed and sealed, spic and span, through thick and thin, this and that, top and tail, tried and tested, wax and waneSee worksheet.
    a film/movie, play or book that gives a very realistic view of ordinary life
    spring into action, spring into/to life
     
    jump to other results
    (of a person, machine, etc.) to suddenly start working or doing something ‘Let's go!’ he said, springing into action. The town springs into life (= becomes busy) during the carnival.
    (literary) a basic food, especially bread to kill somebody to kill yourself
    take your life in your hands
     
    jump to other results
    to risk being killed You take your life in your hands just crossing the road here.
    (informal) used when you are disappointed about something but know that you must accept it It’s a shame I can’t go on the trip, but that’s life.
    that’s the story of my life
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) when you say that’s the story of my life about an unfortunate experience you have had, you mean you have had many similar experiences Another missed opportunity—that’s the story of my life!
    (of a book, film/movie, etc.) seeming real rather than invented I don’t think the characters are very true to life.
    variety is the spice of life
     
    jump to other results
    (saying) new and exciting experiences make life more interesting
    a person’s job or position in society synonym background She has friends from all walks of life.
    a/the/somebody’s way of life
     
    jump to other results
     the typical pattern of behaviour of a person or group the American way of life
    where there’s life (, there’s hope)
     
    jump to other results
    (saying) in a bad situation you must not give up hope because there is always a chance that it will improve
    you can bet your life/your bottom dollar (on something/(that)…)
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) used to say that you are certain that something will happen You can bet your bottom dollar that he'll be late.