Definition of life in English:

life

noun

  • 1[mass noun] The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death:

    ‘the origins of life’
    ‘cats require visual experience during the first few weeks of life’
    • ‘For life to evolve, simple molecules have to combine to form more complex ones.’
    • ‘It is the breath of life and the inward light that animates the human body and inspires the human soul.’
    • ‘They are expressions of the blind will in nature, enabling life to exist and propagate itself.’
    • ‘In just a few of them the constants have taken on the right values for the creation of stars, life and evolution.’
    • ‘This is perhaps fitting, as this is the only place in the universe that we can say without any doubt that life exists.’
    • ‘As blood is pumped around the body, it carries oxygen and nutrients that are essential for life.’
    • ‘The reason we live in a universe fit for life, is that it was hatched in a laboratory in some other universe fit for life.’
    • ‘The dark green color was chosen because it represents life, nature, growth, and ecology.’
    • ‘The chemical evolution of life may have started in space as well, they suggest.’
    • ‘In other words, none of the chemical machinery of life could exist in the smallest of them.’
    existence, being, living, animation, aliveness, animateness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Living things and their activity:
      ‘lower forms of life’
      ‘the ice-cream vendors were the only signs of life’
      ‘the valley is teeming with bird life’
      • ‘You may also see seals, dolphins and sometimes whales, as well as bird and fish life.’
      • ‘The Cretaceous was thus the time in which life as it now exists on Earth came together.’
      • ‘The discovery suggests that life could exist on planets very different from Earth.’
      • ‘The marine and bird life that followed the boat matched that observed by the Endeavour crew.’
      • ‘In a matter of minutes, the hallway is not barren and lonely; it teems with life and sound.’
      • ‘The banks are green again after months of gloom and the margins are alive with life.’
      • ‘The hedge is teeming with wild bird life and just now, at the height of the nesting season, a model of industry.’
      • ‘The tide was way out and most of the bird life was as well, but I was happy to wait and see how the rising tide would affect them.’
      • ‘It is also worth using bread at the times people are feeding the bird life.’
      • ‘There was very little in the way of animal life on the islands, sheep mainly, but the bird life more than made up for that.’
      • ‘I was still outside its atmosphere, and I could see it was made of gas and seemed to have no life existing on it.’
      • ‘What have been the consequences of large waves and water movement to whatever life existed on its surface?’
      • ‘If even microbial life exists on Mars, it would produce methane, and would need water to survive.’
      • ‘The fine paintings of Kota bring alive the teeming life of the hills of Rajasthan.’
      • ‘There are fine examples of native trees with their names on them, and plenty of bird life.’
      • ‘Enjoy the lush foliage, the endemic bird life and some leg stretching all at the same time.’
      • ‘The streets were alive with life this Monday morning on the streets of Manhattan.’
      • ‘As they entered, they walked through a hallway and into the living room in search of a sign of life.’
      • ‘It is a haven for bird life and other wildlife - roe deer and red squirrels can often be spotted from the house.’
      • ‘The prop and rudder were intact here as well, and the whole wreck was alive with life.’
      living things, living beings, living creatures, the living
      View synonyms
  • 2The existence of an individual human being or animal:

    ‘a disaster that claimed the lives of 266 people’
    [mass noun] ‘she didn't want to die; she loved life’
    • ‘The mammal society said these features could be used to identify hotspots where action could be taken to save animal lives.’
    • ‘The accident involving a truck and a car claimed the lives of five people.’
    • ‘It's their profits they are weeping over, not the animals' lives.’
    • ‘The lives of most wild animals will be terminated by violence, by starvation, or by disease.’
    • ‘Wild animals and tropical diseases claim the lives of thousands of laborers.’
    • ‘A high-speed head-on car crash claimed the lives of a teenager and two elderly women, an inquest heard.’
    • ‘In no time at all, this network of like-minded individuals is developing a life of its own.’
    • ‘An individual life is a small thing, which must be seized and relished in equal measure.’
    • ‘Long ambulance journeys are putting the lives of severely ill patients at risk, according to the first research to test the government's plans to close some A&E departments.’
    • ‘The lives of several animals, which were staying there overnight, were put at risk.’
    • ‘So he owes us an explanation why only the lives of human beings are sacred.’
    • ‘Two men are fighting for their lives after a head-on car smash in Radcliffe.’
    • ‘One of the defining evils of terrorism is that it uses human beings' lives to send a political message.’
    • ‘The jubilation of a Welsh rugby success turned to tragedy at the weekend when a car crash claimed the lives of two young men.’
    • ‘I think definitely it should be done if it involves the lives of human beings.’
    • ‘Those of us who presume to speak for the lives of individual animals need to observe our subjects very carefully indeed.’
    • ‘We insist that the law protect the lives of human beings with special firmness and care.’
    • ‘Three children are fighting for their lives after the car they were in plunged into a lake yesterday afternoon.’
    • ‘The farmer was trying to protect the lives of many animals through what he did.’
    • ‘Her campaigns to save animal lives have made headlines around the world.’
    • ‘Zambia will benefit more if the lives of animals in forest reserves are preserved and protected against poachers.’
    person, human being, individual, mortal, soul, creature
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with adjective or noun modifier] A particular type or aspect of human existence:
      ‘his father decided to start a new life in California’
      [mass noun] ‘a teacher will help you settle into school life’
      ‘revelations about his private life’
      • ‘The acting matron, who's worked at Lynwood for 19 years, says residents enjoy full social lives.’
      • ‘How much we could all get by way of tax cuts if we could rebuild family life in this country!’
      • ‘And this again is true for each one of you, in all that you do in your own individual lives.’
      • ‘The worldly life and the religious life are always considered two sides of a coin in Islam.’
      • ‘Despite her filial devotion, Moore did not leave college expecting to spend her adult life with her mother.’
      • ‘Much progress have been achieved in all aspects of their daily lives.’
      • ‘The play aims to give a humorous portrayal of the everyday life of normal mums.’
      • ‘The novelist's story ends just as the literary lives of the historical Charles and Mary Lamb began.’
      • ‘Gen Xers refuse to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of the job.’
      • ‘Wouldn't this kind of attitude to the religious life be seen as somewhat dangerous?’
      • ‘In our everyday lives, we treat animals as a means to our ends, but we increasingly lack moral justifications for doing so.’
      • ‘I had also spent most of my working life writing profiles of people for newspapers.’
      • ‘Is it possible for a couple to have a threesome without risking their love life?’
      • ‘One only has to look at refugee law to see international law having a direct affect on individual lives.’
      • ‘Have we forgotten that interaction and association are important factors in the social lives of humans?’
      • ‘Shakespeare probably ruined my social life at this school also, for all I know.’
      • ‘The worst period in my working life was the period during the Thatcher years.’
      • ‘You need discipline to get results in your social, sporting and professional lives but too many individuals here take a soft option.’
      • ‘There is a lot of talk in our group about applying spiritual practices to our business lives.’
      • ‘Their polytheistic view influenced every aspect of their daily lives.’
      way of life, way of living, manner of living, lifestyle, situation, position, state, station, condition, set of circumstances, fate, lot
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A biography:
      ‘a life of Shelley’
      • ‘He also began work on his life of 17th century biographer and antiquarian John Aubrey.’
      • ‘There were various poems, legends, saint's lives, chronicles and similar literature.’
      biography, autobiography, life story, life history, memoir, history, profile
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 (in Christianity and some other religious traditions) either of the two states of a person's existence separated by death:
      ‘he departed this life on 28 March 1912’
      • ‘Either God is there or he isn't; either there is a life after death or there is not.’
      • ‘Since then, life after death as well as death between lives has been a fact for me, not just a belief.’
      • ‘Well sorry to tell you but if there is a life after death and you get there and don't like it then too bad.’
      • ‘You need proof in order to say that an argument for life after death is based on memories of former lives.’
      • ‘Afterlife energy is an unusual strand running through the life after death debate.’
      • ‘Do people find it possible to communicate across the life / death line through dreaming?’
      lifetime, life span, days, duration of life, allotted span, course of life, time on earth, existence, one's time, one's career, threescore years and ten, this mortal coil
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4 (in Hinduism and some other religious traditions) any of a number of successive existences in which a soul is held to be reincarnated:
      ‘a spiritual pilgrimage into her past lives’
      • ‘In the case of many monks, it seems they could have memorized many things in past lives, so now it is like recalling that memory.’
      • ‘At every opportunity he recalls deeds of kindness done to him by others, even in past lives.’
      • ‘I do believe in reincarnation, that we are reborn into another life with no past memory.’
      • ‘Well, through hypnotism people have supposedly been able to remember past lives.’
      • ‘She went to dozens, maybe hundreds of people who could purport to tell her her past lives to see if they would hook up in any way.’
      • ‘There has been cases of young children allegedly remembering past lives.’
      • ‘I feel it is very certain that you are completing a journey that you have connected with in a past life.’
      • ‘He called the earth to witness his many good deeds of past lives and so justified his seat in that place.’
      • ‘But I'm not a believer in past lives, so I knew it was no echo from a previous existence.’
      • ‘It is only the rarest few who have come to earn this privilege in past lives.’
      • ‘This continues for a long time over many lives until the soul recognizes itself and determines more and more the individual actions.’
      • ‘The suffering in this life is a punishment, but also an opportunity to exercise what I have learned from past lives.’
      • ‘The knots are the karma you're born with from all your past lives, and the object of human life is to try and undo all those knots.’
      • ‘I know people who realise their past lives but I dunno for myself.’
      • ‘Alleged memories of past lives are usually obtained by a procedure called hypnotic regression.’
      • ‘Whether this is purely good luck or a punishment for the sins of past lives is a moot point.’
      • ‘If we had not accumulated good karma in past lives, then we might have taken birth in the lower realms.’
      • ‘What exactly is the impersonal causal connection between the misdeeds in past lives and the painful events in this life?’
    5. 2.5 A chance to live after narrowly escaping death (with reference to the nine lives traditionally attributed to cats):
      ‘we were called to the hospital, but the old rogue had nine lives and seemed to be negotiating for another two’
      • ‘To this day he is living not only as someone with nine lives, but he is living the life of a new man.’
      • ‘She is a beautiful cat, albeit short of a tail, an eye, half an ear and five of her nine lives.’
      • ‘Finally the cat was hauled free, with all but one of her nine lives intact.’
      • ‘George is the survivor, the cat with nine lives, and he has an autobiography for every one of them.’
      • ‘It's also said that a cat has nine lives and we all hope the extra eight are enough to ensure they enjoy a long, happy life.’
      • ‘A lucky cat has used up most of its nine lives after surviving a 12-mile journey under the bonnet of a car.’
      • ‘Millie the cat risked one of her nine lives when she became stuck.’
      • ‘He had already lost one of his nine lives after he was taken to a vet when he was run over by a car.’
      • ‘The results were not reassuring, and by the time we took Fergus to the vet's the following day, we were convinced his nine lives were up.’
      • ‘She is fearless, obviously believing that cats really do have nine lives.’
      • ‘A house next to the site of a proposed cattery is soon to be demolished and rebuilt… proving it, too, has nine lives.’
      • ‘She says fighting an expressway is like struggling with a dragon with nine lives.’
      • ‘It's miraculous the cat has survived - it must have used up a couple of its nine lives.’
      • ‘A cat used up all her nine lives after she survived almost three weeks trapped under floorboards without food or water.’
      • ‘If most cats have nine lives, this one must have at least double that.’
      • ‘They take their feline personalities and act them for every one of their nine lives.’
      • ‘A cat has to catch and kill only one rabies infected mouse and it too will be dead and buried long before it lives out its nine lives.’
      • ‘The puss used up one of her nine lives when she was spotted dodging the Ryanair Boeing 737 as it arrived from Dublin.’
      • ‘Ross the cat is looking for a new home before Christmas where he can retire and live out the rest of his nine lives.’
      • ‘What's interesting about Hollywood stars is that they just seem to have nine lives.’
    6. 2.6 (in various games) one of a specified number of chances each player has before being put out.
      • ‘When a player has lost ten lives, she buys a round of drinks, the score is wiped clean and the next rubber starts.’
      • ‘A player with no lives who cannot or does not wish to call the doctor drops out of the game.’
      • ‘A player must hit his double to become a killer and can then start the business of taking lives from other players by scoring in their double.’
      • ‘These players keep their last lives and another deal is played between them.’
  • 3usually one's lifeThe period between the birth and death of a living thing, especially a human being:

    ‘she has lived all her life in the country’
    ‘they became friends for life’
    • ‘He was probably scarred for life, but his parents must have been delighted at their ingenuity.’
    • ‘His stunning meltdown in a greenside bunker at 16 is the kind of experience that could scar a man for life.’
    • ‘Some priests and priestesses served for life, others for a set period, usually a year.’
    • ‘It may have put me off female singers for life.’
    • ‘To live one's life according to one's true will is not the same as doing whatever one wants to do.’
    • ‘The nub of flesh that pokes up out of the scar and the crater beneath it will be with me for life, I suspect.’
    • ‘She suffered puncture wounds to both thighs and will be scarred for life.’
    • ‘Remember, your child will have a loyal friend for life if you start them out right together.’
    • ‘There is no job for life - only a life of worry about how to make ends meet and whether your pension will last as long as you.’
    • ‘Yet the redundancy is also a reminder that there are no jobs for life any more, even in the most advanced industries.’
    • ‘These are the people who have been telling us to control our sexual appetites and stick to one partner for life.’
    • ‘On the physical level, a car crash which brings you close to the point of death may leave you paralysed for life.’
    • ‘It turns out he was a friend of the da Vinci family and has known the artist all his life.’
    • ‘Should popes, who rule for life, retire if they become ill instead of dying in office?’
    • ‘He was latter crippled for life when he attempted a backspin on the ceiling of his high school gym.’
    • ‘Last month he was jailed for life for the arson deaths.’
    • ‘It has hatched from a culture where the idea of a job for life is dead and buried.’
    • ‘Some children died of polio stroke and some others have become handicapped for life.’
    • ‘In reality, shaking a baby, if only for a few seconds, can damage the baby for life.’
    • ‘It is guaranteed to grow for life, or at least into your old age, because of its genetic programming.’
    lifetime, life span, days, duration of life, allotted span, course of life, time on earth, existence, one's time, one's career, threescore years and ten, this mortal coil
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 The period during which something inanimate or abstract continues to exist, function, or be valid:
      ‘underlay helps to prolong the life of a carpet’
      • ‘The answerphone has storage for only 20 minutes of messages, but battery life is good.’
      • ‘The lids seal tight, prolonging the shelf life of the contents.’
      • ‘This refers to the life of the machine and cannot be transferred to the next one you purchase.’
      • ‘Meanwhile new moments in the life of the nation continue to inspire songs.’
      • ‘Battery life depends so much on usage that we didn't carry out a specific duration test.’
      • ‘The product's proprietary plastic bottle also prevents light-induced oxidation and helps to prolong its shelf life.’
      duration, active life, lifetime, existence, functioning period, period of effectiveness, period of usefulness, validity, efficacy
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2informal [mass noun] A sentence of imprisonment for life.
      • ‘In England and Wales the same offence is treated as rape where the maximum sentence can be life.’
      • ‘He was sentenced to life, and must serve a minimum of nine years before he is eligible for parole.’
      • ‘He was sentenced to life and is currently in Wakefield top security prison.’
      • ‘He was sentenced to life in December last year for the murders of the girls.’
      • ‘He was a tough Scotsman and had been sentenced to life for the murder of a man in a drunken brawl.’
      • ‘There was a huge public outcry when he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life.’
  • 4Vitality, vigour, or energy:

    ‘she was beautiful and full of life’
    • ‘They were full of energy and life and argued their convictions against the war convincingly.’
    • ‘In other words, squeeze the life out of the game and see if they can sneak a goal and cling doggedly to the lead.’
    • ‘The two of them together are a dynamic team, full of energy, life and very headstrong.’
    • ‘The juxtaposition of my somewhat flatly morbid work with the life and vitality of the farm is quite provoking.’
    • ‘She was a wonderful woman, the life and soul, full of energy, always telling stories.’
    • ‘She is smiling in a swimsuit, or rather laughing, and her eyes are alive with life.’
    vivacity, animation, liveliness, vitality, verve, high spirits, sparkle, exuberance, zest, buoyancy, effervescence, enthusiasm, energy, vigour, dynamism, go, elan, gusto, brio, bounce, spirit, spiritedness, activity, fire, panache, colour, dash, drive, push
    moving spirit, moving force, animating spirit, vital spirit, spirit, vital spark, life force, lifeblood, essence, core, heart, soul, strength, quintessence, substance
    View synonyms
  • 5[mass noun] (in art) the depiction of a subject from a real model, rather than from an artist's imagination:

    ‘the pose and clothing were sketched from life’
    See also still life
    • ‘The large back room features portraits drawn from life - the actual rather than the ideal.’
    • ‘From this process emerges spontaneous sketches and studied works from life or the imagination.’
    • ‘At this period El Greco did not paint from life, except for the heads in his portraits.’
    • ‘I trained as a painter initially, and spent a lot of my time drawing from life.’
    • ‘As a result it became a real practical proposition to use the apparatus for making drawings from life.’
    • ‘Already his painting recorded a scene of a disappearing London that had been painted from life.’
    • ‘Anybody who has ever drawn from life can tell you that drawing is like touching.’
    • ‘It took him a mere two hours to sculpt his subject from life in wax before going on to mould the likeness in his unique paste.’

Phrases

  • be one's life

    • Be the most important person or thing to one:

      ‘my work is my life’
      • ‘Everyone who knew him knew police work was his life.’
      • ‘Poetry was not his profession, it was his life.’
      • ‘She voraciously acquired acquaintances of all sorts, invited them into the salon that was her life, and made them feel at home.’
      • ‘After deciding that dance was to be her life, she studied seriously.’
      • ‘Administrator was not just a job to her, it was her life.’
      • ‘"My family is my life," he says.’
  • come (or bring someone) to life

    • 1Regain or cause to regain consciousness:

      ‘all this was of great interest to her, as if she were coming to life after a long sleep’
      • ‘He died and came to life again and hence conquered death.’
      1. 1.1(with reference to a fictional character or inanimate object) cause or seem to be alive or real:
        ‘he brings the character of MacDonald to life with power and precision’
        • ‘I had to be objective so that the characters could come to life, so that the work could have shape.’
        • ‘As all children know, the minute you leave your room, your toys come to life.’
        • ‘Simon is another character who comes to life as never before.’
        • ‘The thing I love most about the job is animating and making your character come to life.’
        • ‘He had a supernatural presence, almost like a fictional character come to life.’
        • ‘I defy the most cynical not to be struck dumb by the character parade, which comes to life to the tune of the Nutcracker ballet.’
        • ‘But audiences willingly collude in that pretence and (when it's done well) rejoice in the characters it brings to life.’
        • ‘The paradoxical implication is rather delicious: Instead of a real dancer playing a puppet who comes to life and dies, here is a real puppet who comes to life as an idealized human being and achieves immortality.’
        • ‘Children relate to puppets from their earliest years as they are used to making inanimate characters come to life.’
        • ‘Even better were the real life characters brought to life by the cast of players who were involved every week.’
      2. 1.2Make or become active, lively, or interesting:
        ‘soon, with the return of the fishermen, the village comes to life again’
        ‘bring any room to life with these coordinating cushions’
        • ‘Still, i have to admit the villain's outfit is brilliant, especially the face, and the trailer seems interesting, as the period was well brought to life.’
        • ‘Thankfully, I found a small lantern with oil still in it, so I lit it and the room came to life.’
        • ‘It's interesting what you say about how a film can be brought to life again and pulled into the 21st century by something a bit more contemporary.’
        • ‘The room just came to life at the end of the day when the educators in the room started talking about using weblogs in their coursework.’
        • ‘Houses have stories to tell, and it's only in the hands of a good guide that the anecdote-laden rooms truly come to life.’
        • ‘The village of Gorthganny came to life with the sound of traditional music, song & dance recently.’
        • ‘It never ceased to amaze him how she could make a long reading assignment come to life and be interesting.’
        • ‘But it's so inept on every level that even scenes that have an inherent, almost foolproof interest fail to come to life.’
        • ‘It was very interesting to see their urban mural come to life and develop.’
        • ‘None other than Dylan Thomas, with his rhetorical verse, could have brought to life with such gaiety and compassion the little fishing village of Llareggub.’
        become active, become lively, come alive, wake up, awaken, waken, show signs of life, arouse, rouse, stir, emerge
        View synonyms
  • do anything for a quiet life

    • Make any concession to avoid being disturbed.

      • ‘The amount I donate is pathetically little compared to how much I spend on books, but there you are - we've already established I do anything for a quiet life.’
      • ‘I will normally do anything for a quiet life but on this occasion I couldn't.’
      • ‘But you get the feeling he'll do anything for a quiet life.’
  • for dear (or one's) life

    • As if or in order to escape death:

      ‘I clung on to the tree for dear life’
      ‘Sue ran for her life’
      • ‘I spent days three and four fighting for my life, desperate to gain the trust of my opponents.’
      • ‘From the nature of her injuries, it was apparent that Jodi had fought desperately for her life.’
      • ‘Put it this way: of the current team, who would you most like batting for your life?’
      • ‘Decaying gangs of the shambling undead fire out words and phrases at you, and you have to hammer them back, quickly, accurately, desperately, typing for your life.’
      • ‘And they should have run for their life when they discovered the foul-smelling swamp nearby.’
      • ‘If you hear a candidate say, ‘I'd like to plant a thought in your mind,’ you'd better run for your life.’
      • ‘Today, she is desperately fighting for her life in hospital and a bone marrow transplant is the only thing that could cure her.’
      • ‘They ran for their life and climbed a tree when the waves came.’
      • ‘After he had been interrogated, and fearing for his life, he escaped through a police station window.’
      • ‘You don't give a damn if you feel you are fighting for your life.’
      desperately, with all one's might, with might and main, urgently, with urgency, vigorously, with as much vigour as possible, for all one is worth, as fast as possible, as hard as possible, like the devil
      View synonyms
  • for the life of me

    • informal [with modal and negative]However hard I try; even if my life depended on it:

      ‘I can't for the life of me understand what you see in her’
      • ‘They came flat, encased between two pieces of hard clear plastic, which I could not open for the life of me.’
      • ‘There's some subtle difference which, for the life of me, I cannot see.’
      • ‘I can't, for the life of me, think why I stopped using it as an alarm clock!’
      • ‘I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this book has made me dwell on my lack of friendships this evening.’
      • ‘My mind goes blank, my heart beatboxes inside my chest, my skin tingles and dampens and I cannot, for the life of me, think of anything to say.’
      • ‘Now, for the life of me, I can't figure out what the priest is getting at here.’
      • ‘I knew that book as well as I knew my own name, but as a child I could not, for the life of me, explain what it meant to me.’
      • ‘I also remember someone miming rather badly too, but for the life of me can't remember who they were, which is probably just as well.’
      • ‘I could not, for the life of me, find my wedge of Parmesan cheese.’
      • ‘However, for the life of me, I will never know how they hatch their young among these sun-oiled simmering tourists!’
  • frighten the life out of

    • Terrify:

      ‘what do you mean by frightening the life out of me?’
      • ‘My wife was just coming up to bed and it frightened the life out of her.’
      • ‘So it was that in 1394 the young king landed at Waterford and, like others in later times, decided that he would adopt a strategy of ‘shock and awe’ that would frighten the life out of the Irish.’
      • ‘Say we didn't pick up on something and there was an accident, we would be the ones liable and that frightens the life out of me.’
      • ‘The health warnings, while over-the-top, succeeded in frightening the life out of most people and forced them to consider safer practices.’
      • ‘How does one tell the whole truth without frightening the life out of your date?’
      • ‘‘I think the biggest danger is well-meaning people frightening the life out of youngsters by pulling figures out of the air,’ Mr Johnson said.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It frightens the life out of you, something like this.’’
      • ‘With her unreasonable, one-issue agenda, she frightens the life out of me.’
      • ‘But when they're good, they're very, very good, as they showed when frightening the life out of France.’
      • ‘I don't know why I felt certain she inhabited the upstairs bathtub, waiting for me to saunter in before pouncing and frightening the life out of me.’
      frighten, make afraid, make fearful, make nervous, panic, throw into a panic
      View synonyms
  • get a life

    • informal [often in imperative]Start living a fuller existence:

      ‘if he's a waster then get yourself out of there and get a life’
      • ‘The official version is that she wants to get a life, sceptics say she counted up the votes and thought she would lose, but more intriguing is the theory that she saw the way things were moving and began to fear that she might win.’
      • ‘But with both the league, union and rules seasons about to start, it really is time certain rugby union types got a life and focused on the challenges and problems facing their own code and leave rugby league to our own!’
      • ‘They're people who, you know, quite frankly need to get a life.’
      • ‘Most of us must make a fateful choice: should we devote our time and talent to making a living - or to getting a life?’
      • ‘In a similar vein one can't help thinking most people would be better off forgetting about lifestyles and getting a life.’
      • ‘As you can see, things have calmed down since last month and I have, as they say, got a life.’
      • ‘‘Laura's now got a life and it's made us realise the value of being together,’ he said.’
      • ‘So I finally decided to act like the social being anthropologists tell me I'm meant to be, and got a life.’
      • ‘I have got a life and I don't need to live vicariously through others in a sort of blog-related addiction.’
      • ‘Now it's about time that these guys got a life and came out of the dark ages - they're living in the Civil War era!’
  • give one's life for

    • Die for:

      ‘he's devoted to the royal family and would give his life for them’
      • ‘And they know that I'm willing to take risks, and this is something that I would be willing to give my life for, because I believe in it.’
      • ‘Altruism, support, self-sacrifice, of the kind that sprang up rather startlingly in the third stanza - ‘I give my life for that’ - are viewed with a prevailing cynicism.’
      • ‘I smile and think of the woman I love, the children that I would give my life for.’
      • ‘This ‘good’ guy, who is invariably a ‘superman’, can beat up a minimum of 20 to 30 baddies, and has a girl he will give his life for.’
      • ‘I think you aren't wholly alive until you know what you would be willing to give your life for.’
      • ‘She spoke out and gave her life for not only civil rights but human rights.’
      • ‘There is nothing worth giving your life for, it's all about survival.’
      • ‘Perhaps one of the things war monuments and graves do is to make you reflect on whether you would have the mettle to give your life for what you felt was right.’
      • ‘She was touched, and added yet another member to her brief list of people she loved and adored and would gladly give her life for.’
      • ‘That tenacity led to Steve giving his life for the public he was proud to serve.’
      die, lay down one's life, sacrifice oneself
      View synonyms
  • (as) large as life

    • Used to emphasize that a person is conspicuously present:

      ‘he was standing nearby, large as life’
      • ‘Here he was today in Parliament, large as life, and there was not one single question on the Order Paper from the Leader of the Opposition.’
      • ‘In their original testimony, they claimed to have been working when he wandered in, large as life, in the company of a man resembling the person described by her as their attacker.’
      • ‘The scar is still on my hip, large as life and on our wall next to the front door is a picture of Angela, Alex and me in the hospital, posing for a picture.’
      • ‘Suddenly Peggy just appeared at the side door as large as life.’
      • ‘A cheetah bounds into a picture, large as life, head thrown back and maw wide, roaring or yawning over a rib cage.’
      • ‘But when they lined up for the team picture before their Champions League semi-final, there he was, large as life, and preserved for posterity.’
      • ‘I doubt that you would sanction drinking and gambling on such a scale, but there you are as large as life, directly above the club's reception desk.’
      • ‘‘They were in again last night, large as life,’ he murmured.’
      • ‘Even sadder was the mid-2002 suddenness with which Our Man Geoffrey, large as life, disappeared from the small screen.’
      • ‘The Case of the Missing Elephant is soon solved, for, behold, five pages further on there is the selfsame caption with the correct picture, and the elusive pachyderm large as life in the foreground.’
  • larger than life

    • see life
      • ‘Hollywood's most robust character actor left a larger-than-life screen legacy’
      • ‘He's hard to miss with that unmistakable voice and his larger-than-life presence on the screen.’
      • ‘These sequences will be accentuated by the use of space, dazzling costumes, larger-than-life props and choreography.’
      • ‘Do you find that the larger-than-life villain types are easier to play on film, or easier to play on stage?’
      • ‘He was one of these larger-than-life Brits like Sir Richard Francis Burton or Lord Byron.’
      • ‘Before we knew it, characters in the audience were shouting abuse at the screen and the larger-than-life film actors were bursting into the auditorium.’
      • ‘Even the larger-than-life romantic heroes have recognizable human emotions.’
      • ‘It's an odd fit for a man who has become a larger-than-life guru of improvisation.’
      • ‘But, as ever with this larger-than-life figure, it is difficult not to return again and again to questions of arrogance and laziness.’
      • ‘Both are fond of big ideas and larger-than-life gestures.’
    • 1(of a person) attracting special attention because of unusual and flamboyant appearance or behaviour:

      ‘he was a larger-than-life character on and off the pitch’
      • ‘They came from all parts of the country and overseas to bid their fond farewells to a man who was larger than life and who worked so hard for his constituents in his beloved Roscommon.’
      • ‘It was meant to be, like, noir sort of style, so it's set in a completely unreal universe that doesn't represent anything in the world, and all the people are larger than life.’
      • ‘He was a larger than life character - jovial, outgoing, hugely personable.’
      • ‘And it was as if he was suddenly larger than life, a living breathing projection of my own wilted self-image.’
      • ‘He is a colourful character, larger than life, fun, friendly and always joking.’
      • ‘But he can't make himself larger than life, and neither can his cult followers, no matter how hard they try.’
      • ‘‘It's about the last time that you believe in people as larger than life,’ he says.’
      • ‘The larger than life owner attracted some of the biggest acts of the 60s and 70s to a grateful Leigh, as well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities.’
      • ‘He's got that movie star quality happening - there's something larger than life about his frame, his presence.’
      • ‘Perhaps being ‘one note’ is what makes them memorable & larger than life.’
      1. 1.1(of a thing) seeming disproportionately important:
        ‘your problems seem larger than life at that time of night’
  • life and limb

    • Life and all bodily faculties:

      ‘a burglar risking life and limb to scramble into an open third-floor window’
      • ‘But their traditional routes are often bisected by roads - forcing the creatures to risk life and limb as they follow their instinct.’
      • ‘Passengers tempted by the sight of the sometimes near-empty buses risk their life and limb while making a mad rush to board them.’
      • ‘I am going to risk life and limb here, but I believe I am justified in saying that there are novels which women will enjoy more than men, and vice versa.’
      • ‘He had risked life and limb for his country and fellow soldiers, given his all and came home safe and sound - one of the lucky ones, one of the boys.’
      • ‘They often work long hours under trying conditions, risking life and limb, and in the process they make positive contributions to society.’
      • ‘Despite flood warnings, the annual River Wharfe swim in Otley went ahead, where six swimmers left the warmth of their hearths to risk life and limb in the swollen river.’
      • ‘When ripe, the fruit turns a bright reddish orange and attracts pecking birds and children who risk life and limb to get at the juiciest looking cashew fruit.’
      • ‘But this is heroism of a peculiarly modern kind, not the ability to risk life and limb to achieve a particular result but the quiet acceptance of suffering.’
      • ‘The concerned local man took a number of photographs of the workers as they risked life and limb on the roof of the building, which is due to open on January 29.’
      • ‘It is a frightening thought that but for the willingness of these members to risk life and limb to help others and the efforts of fundraisers, many people would not be here today to thank them.’
  • the life and soul of the party (usthe life of the party)

    • A vivacious and sociable person:

      ‘William was infinitely preferable when he was being the life and soul of the party’
      • ‘She has a vivacious personality and is easily the life of the party wherever she goes.’
      • ‘Once you're re-charged, you'll be the life of the party!’
      • ‘Three days before her death, we held our annual Happy Halloween party, and she was the life of the party.’
      • ‘Your friends think you are the life of the party.’
      • ‘Everyone seems to like you since you are funny and the life of the party.’
      • ‘She was the life of the party, and I can't imagine that's changed, wherever she may be.’
      • ‘Described as vivacious and the life and soul of the party, she was never short of an invitation to a charity gala on South Africa's high society circuit.’
      • ‘He's not the life of the party, but he's the guy talking about the life of the party, or making fun of the life of the party.’
      • ‘Trying to avoid drunkenness is pretty tough in this culture, and it doesn't exactly make you the life of the party.’
      • ‘I have a policy that I'm the the life of the party.’
  • life in the fast lane

      • ‘Living in Bridge of Weir in deepest, leafiest Renfrewshire allows 40-year-old Flynn to escape life in the fast lane.’
      • ‘He lived life in the fast lane and enjoyed the challenges he encountered, picking winners in the sales ring and watching them win races - and big races at that - when the time came to show their worth.’
      • ‘A good many people who live life in the fast lane for most of the year slow down and take it easy as December comes to an end, for they desire to spare some time for those loved ones living far away.’
      • ‘He said: ‘He lived life in the fast lane and was always upbeat and the biggest person in the crowd.’’
      • ‘When the Advertiser appeared in 1854, townspeople relied on true horsepower, putting your foot down meant being firm and there was no such thing as life in the fast lane.’
      • ‘Her brother Steve said: ‘Despite her health problems she lived her life in the fast lane and was always laughing.’’
      • ‘When living life in the fast lane, there is rarely time to think about others, even if they are the ones who double our joys and share our sufferings.’
      • ‘Maybe it's the California lifestyle - life in the fast lane.’
      • ‘Maybe he is making a cutting and slightly surreal film about life in the fast lane of a hard-working-but-slightly-bizarre IT department.’
      • ‘Yet despite the sub-zero temperatures and heavy, leaded skies almost touching the land, I reflected that Norfolk offered a meaningful and quite spiritual respite from life in the fast lane.’
    • An exciting and eventful lifestyle, especially one bringing wealth and success:

      ‘he's shunning life in the fast lane for the green grass of home’
  • life is too short

    • Said to indicate that the speaker feels there are better uses of their time than the activity in question:

      ‘life is too short to read the small print on financial documents’
      ‘life is too short for movies that are just OK’
      • ‘Life's too short to be miserable for too long.’
      • ‘You don't have to pay a fortune for the bottles you drink on holiday, but life is too short to drink bad wine.’
      • ‘Life's too short to waste time on doing things you already know you don't enjoy.’
      • ‘Life's too short not to relax and enjoy yourself.’
      • ‘The illness was a reminder that life's too short, so he ended his third marriage.’
      • ‘Life is too short for brooding about the vocabularies of strangers.’
      • ‘I think life's too short to stay home.’
      • ‘Only go to the best cafes, because life is too short for bad coffee.’
      • ‘I figured life was too short to diet and ate to my heart's content.’
      • ‘Life's too short to hang around with jerks.’
  • one's life's work

    • The work (especially that of an academic or artistic nature) accomplished in or pursued throughout someone's lifetime:

      ‘a major exhibition of his life's work’
      • ‘Dharma implies that each of us has unique talents waiting to be expressed through our life's work.’
      • ‘Paul's position was not academic theory; it was a statement of his life's work.’
      • ‘What's it like to see a huge chunk of your life's work in one volume?’
      • ‘At the late career stage, faculty members begin putting together their life's work, although some use this period to pursue entirely new agendas.’
      • ‘At the same time, she always found her life conditions, as an impecunious single woman editing and translating the work of great men, to be unpropitious for even defining much less accomplishing her life's work.’
      • ‘The artist has finished what he once called his life's work and now lives in sheltered housing in Manchester.’
      • ‘After 20 years and 11 albums, he takes stock of his life's work in a new collection of his most famous songs.’
      • ‘The son seems to have made posturing against his father's accomplishments and beliefs his life's work.’
      • ‘Some people, when they're told they have terminal illnesses, start planning for after life: writing memoirs, completing their life's work, sorting through their photo albums or whatever.’
      • ‘Like the swarms of people who flock to Web sites devoted to the study of genealogy, company owners who fall into their life's work through happenstance or inheritance may feel rootless, even disaffected.’
  • lose one's life

    • Be killed:

      ‘he lost his life in a car accident’
      • ‘The man who killed him also lost his life, but it was generally agreed that the sacrifice was worth it.’
      • ‘The deceased lorry driver lost his life when he was forced to swerve his vehicle in an effort to avoid a small boy and drove into a lamp post.’
      • ‘Well, thank God so far nobody has lost their life.’
      • ‘Luckily this time no-one lost their life, but 11 people have been killed in 70 days of chaos on our roads, and police are predicting more carnage in the summer months ahead.’
      • ‘We're very sad that somebody has lost their life and would like to send our sympathies to the family.’
      • ‘It is terrible that someone has lost their life and that we have also lost such a historic building.’
      • ‘Every time an innocent person lost their life, he was heart-broken.’
      • ‘His son Joe lost his life when attempting to do likewise in 1862.’
      • ‘Samson still lost his life, but he knew that they were going to kill him anyway.’
      • ‘I nearly lost my life and it's made me appreciate every single day.’
      pass away, pass on, lose one's life, depart this life, expire, breathe one's last, draw one's last breath, meet one's end, meet one's death, lay down one's life, be no more, perish, be lost, go the way of the flesh, go the way of all flesh, go to glory, go to one's last resting place, go to meet one's maker, cross the great divide, cross the styx
      View synonyms
  • a matter of life and death

    • A matter of vital importance:

      ‘she would not go out on the Sabbath unless it was a matter of life and death’
      • ‘However, for people who need vital organs replaced, the deficiencies of artificial substitutes are a matter of life and death.’
      • ‘Unionization was necessary; it was literally a matter of life and death.’
      • ‘‘It's a matter of life and death, really,’ he said, referring to the need for proper safety procedures.’
      • ‘It is a truth barely appreciated that government not only matters, but it is a matter of life and death that the right people run it.’
      • ‘Yet as well as turning York into one big traffic jam, these roadworks are also making life even more difficult for ambulance drivers, whose journeys are essential and can be a matter of life and death.’
      • ‘Whether his weekly column was on writing clearly, resisting tyranny or making tea, he always made it sound like a matter of life and death.’
      • ‘‘I will not operate on you unless it's a matter of life and death,’ the surgeon told me.’
      • ‘The ultimate outcome could be a matter of life and death.’
      • ‘Prevention is a matter of public health for governments, but a matter of life and death for individuals.’
      • ‘The old fans' line says that football is not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that.’
      vitally important, of vital importance, all-important, vital, crucial, critical, essential, of the essence, a matter of life and death, of great consequence, necessary, indispensable, exigent, pressing, urgent
      View synonyms
  • not on your life

    • informal Said to emphasize one's refusal to comply with a request:

      ‘‘I want to see Clare alone.’ ‘Not on your life,’ said Buzz’
      • ‘Mac smiled: ‘Speaking for myself, I'd say ‘not on your life.’’
      • ‘It will continue to happen but as for just a stunt, not on your life Robyn.’
      • ‘M. thinks it's awful and wanted to get in here and paint everything white and put down carpet and I told her not on your life, this room is mine.’
  • save someone's (or one's own) life

    • 1Prevent someone's (or one's own) death:

      ‘the driver of the train managed to save his life by leaping out of the cab’
      • ‘Will the fundamental design of that equipment in fact save my life, or will it actually take it from me?’
      • ‘The death of the mammal should not blind us to the excellence of the steps taken to save its life.’
      • ‘He was only going to surrender under the threat of death to save his own life.’
      • ‘If he decided to jump off the train and saved his own life, he could do so without injury.’
      • ‘He blamed himself for saving his own life instead of returning to the burning buildings to help others.’
      • ‘Our ability to connect with our inner self could well save our life and that of the planet!’
      • ‘But just as they came to the top, a big rig was coming towards them, and to save his own life, the driver in the truck swung back to the appropriate side.’
      • ‘One camel is rejected at birth by its mother and the family goes to great lengths to save its life.’
      • ‘Train your dog to basic obedience which makes it easy to live with and may one day save its life.’
      • ‘How could anyone be so desperate to save their own life when it means the deaths of so many other people?’
      1. 1.1informal Provide much-needed relief from boredom or a difficult situation:
        ‘Rosalind kissed her. ‘Oh you darling! You've saved my life! I've been so miserable’’
  • see life

    • Gain a wide experience of the world:

      ‘playwrights are too busy writing plays to see life’
      • ‘But if you want to see life as it is and travel and meet other people, buy a motorhome, Ron said.’
      • ‘And - and to me, here was a chance to jump off that kind of wagon and see life for real.’
      • ‘But for those who only want to see life through the lens of the camera, the festival is probably a good option.’
      • ‘The camp activities not only brought these children from such diverse places but also gave them an opportunity to see life in the raw.’
  • take one's life in one's hands

    • Risk being killed:

      ‘with more cars around than ever, you take your life in your hands just crossing the road’
      • ‘I also took my life in my hands by visiting a Kurdish barber.’
      • ‘If you want to cross the road, you are taking your life in your hands.’
      • ‘I set off on this particular bus journey as dusk was approaching, little realising that I was about to take my life in my hands.’
      • ‘‘People go down there much too quickly all the time - you take your life in your hands if you try to cross the road,’ said one resident.’
      • ‘Even walking down the small road outside the Coven now involves taking your life in your hands, because there are no footpaths and people insist on driving at 70 or 80 mph around blind bends.’
      • ‘Today I took my life in my hands and spent it in the company of many three-year-olds!’
      • ‘He described the attack as a reflex action: ‘Anybody who had planned a snipe from that position would have literally been taking his life in his hands.’’
      • ‘Yesterday I took my life in my hands and cleared out my garage.’
      • ‘Anybody who crosses it walking, especially in July and August, is taking their life in their hands.’
      • ‘Sometimes I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands on the road but I have no choice because I can't manage on the footpath.’
  • take someone's (or one's own) life

    • Kill someone (or oneself).

      • ‘It brought it back, a lot of painful memories but it helped me to, you know, put a face to the person that killed my sister, and almost took my life, and it just it was helpful.’
      • ‘He thought that no one would know that he killed her, that he took her life.’
      • ‘But if we did have a parrot such as the one Locke described, surely it would be as morally wrong to take its life without good reason as it would to kill a human being.’
      • ‘Well I almost robbed a bank and in the process my brother was killed and I took a man's life.’
      • ‘It must be an very sad place to be for victims, when they see no hope other than the ultimate step of taking your own life.’
      • ‘She meant that as her last loyalty she would kill my daughter while I took my own life.’
      • ‘You should be able to designate that if you reach that certain stage and cannot take your own life, it will be done for you.’
      • ‘The coroner recorded verdicts that the boys were unlawfully killed and their father took his own life.’
      • ‘Taking your own life because of a threatening situation was like killing a child in our family.’
      • ‘Stones kill, and as these instruments of death were taking his life, his last act was in service to others.’
  • that's life

    • An expression of one's acceptance of a situation, however difficult:

      ‘we'll miss each other, but still, that's life’
      • ‘One approach is to accept that that's life, and people have to make choices for themselves and their kids.’
      • ‘Most of the time we don't manage it, but that's life; communication is a difficult business.’
      • ‘Yes, we do rotate some around a bit, but that's life.’
      • ‘I might think up another idea for a show or a song and I don't let rejections put me off because that's life.’
      • ‘My close friends have been very supportive of my modelling, but some of them have been difficult, but I guess that's life.’
      • ‘We certainly can't complain on how the place is built because that's life.’
      • ‘It just did not happen for us on the day but then that's life.’
      • ‘Even in training my team-mates go all out to get me, but that's life.’
      • ‘It has been pretty difficult, but that's life, isn't it?’
      • ‘But that's life, you have just got to get on with it and I'm happy where I am just now.’
      the way of the world, the world, the way things go, the way of it, the human condition, the times we live in, the usual state of affairs, the school of hard knocks
      View synonyms
  • this is the life

    • An expression of contentment with one's present circumstances:

      ‘Ice cubes clinked in crystal glasses. ‘This is the life,’ she said’
      • ‘‘Max, this is the life,’ I said as I looked around the living room.’
      • ‘Bronzed bodies and muscles, ah yes this is the life and I am enjoying every minute of it.’
      • ‘I'm not sure many of the holidaymakers here were too happy when 20-odd footballers all barged into the hotel reception but, you have to say, this is the life!’
      • ‘‘Now this is the life,’ she mumbled contented with the flowing music.’
      • ‘After I directed, when I went back to being an actor, I was like, ‘God, this is the life!’’
      • ‘By ‘personal values,’ I mean what gets you excited; what makes your heart sing; what makes you feel like, ‘yes, this is the life!’’
      • ‘‘Now, this is the life,’ Marta said a few minutes later as they stood near the ocean's edge, drinking smoothies.’
      • ‘‘Yes, this is the life for me,’ he said out loud, to himself.’
      • ‘‘Man, this is the life,’ he continues, lighting up a huge brown cigar.’
      • ‘‘Ahhh, this is the life,’ Long purred, stretching out his arms.’
  • to the life

    • Exactly like the original:

      ‘there he was, Nathan to the life, sitting at a table’
  • to save one's life

    • [with modal and negative]Even if one's life were to depend on it:

      ‘she couldn't stop crying now to save her life’

Origin

Old English līf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lijf, German Leib body, also to live.

Pronunciation:

life

/lʌɪf/