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See more synonyms for lifeline on Thesaurus.com
  1. a line, fired across a ship or boat, by means of which a hawser for a breeches buoy may be hauled aboard.
  2. a line or rope for saving life, as one attached to a lifeboat.
  3. any of various lines running above the decks, spars, etc., of a ship or boat to give sailors something to grasp when there is danger of falling or being washed away.
  4. a wire safety rope supported by stanchions along the edge of the deck of a yacht.
  5. the line by which a diver is lowered and raised.
  6. any of several anchored lines used by swimmers for support.
  7. a route or means of transportation or communication for receiving or delivering food, medicine, or assistance: This road is the town's lifeline and must be kept open despite the snow.
  8. assistance at a critical time.
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Origin of lifeline

First recorded in 1690–1700; life + line1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for lifeline

aid, line, salvation

Examples from the Web for lifeline

Contemporary Examples of lifeline

Historical Examples of lifeline

  • I thought at least she would see my initials all over your lifeline.

    The Twelfth Hour

    Ada Leverson

  • “Give her the once over and throw out the lifeline,” Jimmie said.

    Turn About Eleanor

    Ethel M. Kelley

  • Ten months of siege followed as Grant methodically cut the Confederate 39 lifeline.

  • She wakes with a tearing start from the gray dreams of death that fill her lifeline.

    The Big Time

    Fritz Reuter Leiber

  • Half my memories were doubled, half my lifeline crooked and twisted, three new moles upon my sword-hand.

    The Big Time

    Fritz Reuter Leiber

British Dictionary definitions for lifeline


  1. a line thrown or fired aboard a vessel for hauling in a hawser for a breeches buoy
  2. any rope or line attached to a vessel or trailed from it for the safety of passengers, crew, swimmers, etc
  3. a line by which a deep-sea diver is raised or lowered
  4. a vital line of access or communication
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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 lifeline


also life-line, 1700, "rope used somehow to save lives," from life (n.) + line (n.); figurative sense first attested 1860. Sense in palmistry from 1890.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper