- 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 [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). living things
- 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 period of time
- 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
- 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.
- 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 punishment
- 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 experience/activities
- 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.
- 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?
- 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 energy/excitement
- 11 [uncountable] the quality of being active and exciting synonym vitality This is a great holiday resort that is full of life. in art
- 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 story of life
- 13[countable] a story of somebody’s life synonym biography She wrote a life of Mozart. in children’s games
- 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. Word Origin Old English līf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lijf, German Leib
- 1to become more interesting, exciting or full of activity The match finally came to life in the second half.
- 2to start to act or move as if alive In my dream all my toys came to life.
state of living
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? (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 (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 person somebody loves more than any other to cause problems for somebody She does everything she can to make life difficult for him. to behave in a way that makes somebody else feel very unhappy (informal) the man or woman that you are having a sexual or romantic relationship with Anna has a new man in her life. used to describe a situation that is very important or serious (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 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 (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 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. (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. (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. the typical pattern of behaviour of a person or group the American way of life (saying) in a bad situation you must not give up hope because there is always a chance that it will improve
(informal) used to say that you are certain that something will happen You can bet your bottom dollar that he'll be late.