• synonyms


  1. having life; living; existing; not dead or lifeless.
  2. living (used for emphasis): the proudest man alive.
  3. in a state of action; in force or operation; active: to keep hope alive.
  4. full of energy and spirit; lively: Grandmother's more alive than most of her contemporaries.
  5. having the quality of life; vivid; vibrant: The room was alive with color.
  6. Electricity. live2(def 17).
Show More
  1. alive to, alert or sensitive to; aware of: City planners are alive to the necessity of revitalizing deteriorating neighborhoods.
  2. alive with, filled with living things; swarming; teeming: The room was alive with mosquitoes.
  3. look alive! pay attention! move quickly!: Look alive! We haven't got all day.
Show More

Origin of alive

before 1000; Middle English; Old English on līfe in life; see a-1
Related formsa·live·ness, nounhalf-a·live, adjective


4. active.


1. dead. 3. defunct. 4. lifeless.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for half-alive

Historical Examples

  • With him, she was only half-alive; the rest was dormant, deadened.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • They don't ever understand, these easy, half-alive, untempted folks!


    M. Leonora Eyles

  • The noose slipped, and I was dangling in the air in excruciating agony, half-dead and half-alive.

  • The unfortunate victims, when you chance to meet them, mostly look but half-alive, and dismally cold.

    The Mark Of Cain

    Andrew Lang

  • Mrs. Rowan sat by her husband's side, leaning back in her chair, with closed eyes and clasped hands, only half-alive.

British Dictionary definitions for half-alive


adjective (postpositive)
  1. (of people, animals, plants, etc) living; having life
  2. in existence; activethey kept hope alive; the tradition was still alive
  3. (immediately postpositive and usually used with a superlative) of those living; now livingthe happiest woman alive
  4. full of life; livelyshe was wonderfully alive for her age
  5. (usually foll by with) animateda face alive with emotion
  6. (foll by to) aware (of); sensitive (to)
  7. (foll by with) teeming (with)the mattress was alive with fleas
  8. electronics another word for live 2 (def. 11)
  9. alive and kicking (of a person) active and in good health
  10. look alive! hurry up! get busy!
Show More
Derived Formsaliveness, noun

Word Origin

Old English on līfe in life
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for half-alive



c.1200, from Old English on life "in living." The fuller form on live was still current 17c. Alive and kicking "alert, vigorous," attested from 1859; "The allusion is to a child in the womb after quickening" [Farmer]. Used emphatically, especially with man; e.g.:

[A]bout a thousand gentlemen having bought his almanacks for this year, merely to find what he said against me, at every line they read they would lift up their eyes, and cry out betwixt rage and laughter, "they were sure no man alive ever writ such damned stuff as this." [Jonathan Swift, Bickerstaff's Vindication, 1709]

Thus abstracted as an expletive, man alive! (1845).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with half-alive


In addition to the idioms beginning with alive

  • alive and kicking
  • alive to
  • alive with

also see:

  • come alive
  • eat someone alive
  • look alive
  • more dead than alive
  • skin alive
Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.