n. pl. lives(līvz)
a. The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.
b. The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.
2. Living organisms considered as a group: plant life; marine life.
3. A living being, especially a person: an earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives.
4. The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence: the artistic life of a writer.
a. The interval of time between birth and death: She led a good, long life.
b. The interval of time between one's birth and the present: has had hay fever all his life.
c. A particular segment of one's life: my adolescent life.
d. The period from an occurrence until death: elected for life; paralyzed for life.
e. Slang A sentence of imprisonment lasting till death.
6. The time for which something exists or functions: the useful life of a car.
7. A spiritual state regarded as a transcending of corporeal death.
8. An account of a person's life; a biography.
9. Human existence, relationships, or activity in general: real life; everyday life.
a. A manner of living: led a hard life.
b. A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: “Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them” (New Republic).
c. The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.
a. A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.
b. Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.
a. Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.
b. Actual environment or reality; nature.
1. Of or relating to animate existence; involved in or necessary for living: life processes.
2. Continuing for a lifetime; lifelong: life partner; life imprisonment.
3. Using a living model as a subject for an artist: a life sculpture.
as big as life
2. Actually present.
bring to life
1. To cause to regain consciousness.
2. To put spirit into; animate.
3. To make lifelike.
come to life
To become animated; grow excited.
for dear life
Desperately or urgently: I ran for dear life when I saw the tiger.
Till the end of one's life.
for the life of (one)
Though trying hard: For the life of me I couldn't remember his name.
not on your life Informal
Absolutely not; not for any reason whatsoever.
take (one's) life
To kill oneself; die by suicide.
take (one's) life in (one's) hands
To take a dangerous risk.
take (someone's) life
To kill someone.
the good life
A wealthy, luxurious way of living.
the life of Riley Informal
An easy life.
the life of the party Informal
An animated, amusing person who is the center of attention at a social gathering.
to save (one's) life
No matter how hard one tries: He can't ski to save his life.
true to life
Conforming to reality.
[Middle English, from Old English līf; see leip- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.