1. The act of dying; termination of life.
2. The state of being dead.
3. The cause of dying: Drugs were the death of him.
4. A manner of dying: a heroine's death.
5. often Death A personification of the destroyer of life, usually represented as a skeleton holding a scythe.
a. Bloodshed; murder.
7. Law Civil death.
8. The termination or extinction of something: the death of imperialism.
at death's door
Near to death; gravely ill or injured.
be the death of
To distress or irritate to an intolerable degree.
Opposed to or strict about: Our boss is death on casual dressing.
put to death
To an intolerable degree; extremely: worried to death.
to the death
Until one participant in a fight or struggle has died or been killed.
[Middle English deeth, from Old English dēath; see dheu-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.