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noun Slang.
  1. a person sentenced to or serving a term of life imprisonment.
  2. a person committed to a professional lifetime career in the military.
  3. a person who has devoted a lifetime to a profession, occupation, or pursuit.
  4. (in birding)
    1. Also called life bird.a species of bird not seen previously and that will therefore be added to the bird watcher's life list.
    2. the sighting of a bird of a previously unseen species: It seems like forever since I've had a lifer!
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Origin of lifer

First recorded in 1820–30; life + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

organic, hostage, convict, captive, detainee, delinquent, lawbreaker, offender, tough, culprit, lag, loser, con, jailbird, lifer, internee, yardbird, malefactor, outlaw, life

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British Dictionary definitions for lifer


  1. informal a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment
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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 lifer


"prisoner serving a life sentence," 1830, from life (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper