See more synonyms for lives on


noun, plural lives [lahyvz] /laɪvz/.
  1. the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.
  2. the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, especially metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.
  3. the animate existence or period of animate existence of an individual: to risk one's life; a short life and a merry one.
  4. a corresponding state, existence, or principle of existence conceived of as belonging to the soul: eternal life.
  5. the general or universal condition of human existence: Too bad, but life is like that.
  6. any specified period of animate existence: a man in middle life.
  7. the period of existence, activity, or effectiveness of something inanimate, as a machine, lease, or play: The life of the car may be ten years.
  8. a living being, especially a human being: Several lives were lost.
  9. living things collectively: the hope of discovering life on other planets; insect life.
  10. a particular aspect of existence: He enjoys an active physical life.
  11. the course of existence or sum of experiences and actions that constitute a person's existence: His business has been his entire life.
  12. a biography: a newly published life of Willa Cather.
  13. animation; liveliness; spirit: a speech full of life.
  14. resilience; elasticity.
  15. the force that makes or keeps something alive; the vivifying or quickening principle: The life of the treaty has been an increase of mutual understanding and respect.
  16. a mode or manner of existence, as in the world of affairs or society: So far her business life has not overlapped her social life.
  17. the period or extent of authority, popularity, approval, etc.: the life of the committee; the life of a bestseller.
  18. a prison sentence covering the remaining portion of the offender's animate existence: The judge gave him life.
  19. anything or anyone considered to be as precious as life: She was his life.
  20. a person or thing that enlivens, cheers, or brightens a gathering or group: the life of the party.
  21. effervescence or sparkle, as of wines.
  22. pungency or strong, sharp flavor, as of substances when fresh or in good condition.
  23. nature or any of the forms of nature as the model or subject of a work of art: drawn from life.
  24. Baseball. another opportunity given to a batter to bat because of a misplay by a fielder.
  25. (in English pool) one of a limited number of shots allowed a player: Each pool player has three lives at the beginning of the game.
  1. for or lasting a lifetime; lifelong: a life membership in a club; life imprisonment.
  2. of or relating to animate existence: the life force; life functions.
  3. working from nature or using a living model: a life drawing; a life class in oil painting.
  1. as large as life, actually; indeed: There he stood, as large as life.Also as big as life.
  2. come to life,
    1. to recover consciousness.
    2. to become animated and vigorous: The evening passed, but somehow the party never came to life.
    3. to appear lifelike: The characters of the novel came to life on the screen.
  3. for dear life, with desperate effort, energy, or speed: We ran for dear life, with the dogs at our heels.Also for one's life.
  4. for the life of one, as hard as one tries; even with the utmost effort: He can't understand it for the life of him.
  5. get a life, to improve the quality of one's social and professional life: often used in the imperative to express impatience with someone's behavior: Stop wasting time with that nonsense; get a life!
  6. not on your life, Informal. absolutely not; under no circumstances; by no means: Will I stand for such a thing? Not on your life!
  7. take one's life in one's hands, to risk death knowingly: We were warned that we were taking our lives in our hands by going through that swampy area.
  8. to the life, in perfect imitation; exactly: The portrait characterized him to the life.

Origin of life

before 900; Middle English lif(e); Old English līf; cognate with Dutch lijf, German Leib body, Old Norse līf life, body; akin to live1
Related formspre·life, adjectiveun·der·life, noun

Synonyms for life

See more synonyms for on

Antonyms for life

13. inertia.


verb (used without object), lived [livd] /lɪvd/, liv·ing.
  1. to have life, as an organism; be alive; be capable of vital functions: all things that live.
  2. to continue to have life; remain alive: to live to a ripe old age.
  3. to continue in existence, operation, memory, etc.; last: a book that lives in my memory.
  4. to maintain or support one's existence; provide for oneself: to live on one's income.
  5. to feed or subsist (usually followed by on or upon): to live on rice and bananas.
  6. to dwell or reside (usually followed by in, at, etc.): to live in a cottage.
  7. to pass life in a specified manner: They lived happily ever after.
  8. to direct or regulate one's life: to live by the golden rule.
  9. to experience or enjoy to the full: At 40 she was just beginning to live.
  10. to cohabit (usually followed by with).
  11. to escape destruction or remain afloat, as a ship or aircraft.
verb (used with object), lived [livd] /lɪvd/, liv·ing.
  1. to pass (life): to live a life of ease.
  2. to practice, represent, or exhibit in one's life: to live one's philosophy.
Verb Phrases
  1. live down, to live so as to allow (a mistake, disgrace, etc.) to be forgotten or forgiven: She'll never live that crucial moment of failure down.
  2. live in/out, to reside at or away from the place of one's employment, especially as a domestic servant: Their butler lives in, but the maids live out.
  3. live up to, to live in accordance with (expectations or an ideal or standard); measure up to: He never lived up to his father's vision of him.
  1. live high off/on the hog. hog(def 16).
  2. live it up, Informal. to live in an extravagant or wild manner; pursue pleasure: He started living it up after he got out of the army.
  3. live well, to live comfortably: They're not wealthy but they live well.

Origin of live

before 900; Middle English liven, Old English lifian, libban; cognate with Dutch leven, German leben, Old Norse lifa, Gothic liban Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lives

Contemporary Examples of lives

Historical Examples of lives

  • But unless he did something a hundred lives perhaps might be lost.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • To the end of the lives of the spectators, it was a tale of wonder.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Just think of the Hippopotamus, the horse or "hippos" that lives in the rivers.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Strange, by what slender threads our lives are knitted to each other!


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Lanning, if I had you at my back I could laugh at the law the rest of our lives!

British Dictionary definitions for lives


  1. the plural of life


noun plural lives (laɪvz)
  1. the state or quality that distinguishes living beings or organisms from dead ones and from inorganic matter, characterized chiefly by metabolism, growth, and the ability to reproduce and respond to stimuliRelated adjectives: animate, vital
  2. the period between birth and death
  3. a living person or beingto save a life
  4. the time between birth and the present time
    1. the remainder or extent of one's life
    2. (as modifier)a life sentence; life membership; life subscription; life work
  5. short for life imprisonment
  6. the amount of time that something is active or functioningthe life of a battery
  7. a present condition, state, or mode of existencemy life is very dull here
    1. a biography
    2. (as modifier)a life story
    1. a characteristic state or mode of existencetown life
    2. (as modifier)life style
  8. the sum or course of human events and activities
  9. liveliness or high spiritsfull of life
  10. a source of strength, animation, or vitalityhe was the life of the show
  11. all living things, taken as a wholethere is no life on Mars; plant life
  12. sparkle, as of wines
  13. strong or high flavour, as of fresh food
  14. (modifier) arts drawn or taken from a living modellife drawing; a life mask
  15. physics another name for lifetime
  16. (in certain games) one of a number of opportunities of participation
  17. as large as life informal real and living
  18. larger than life in an exaggerated form
  19. come to life
    1. to become animate or conscious
    2. to be realistically portrayed or represented
  20. for dear life urgently or with extreme vigour or desperation
  21. for the life of one though trying desperately
  22. go for your life Australian and NZ informal an expression of encouragement
  23. a matter of life and death a matter of extreme urgency
  24. not on your life informal certainly not
  25. the life and soul informal a person regarded as the main source of merriment and livelinessthe life and soul of the party
  26. the life of Riley informal an easy life
  27. to the life (of a copy or image) resembling the original exactly
  28. to save one's life informal in spite of all considerations or attemptshe couldn't play football to save his life
  29. the time of one's life a memorably enjoyable time
  30. true to life faithful to reality

Word Origin for life

Old English līf; related to Old High German lib, Old Norse līf life, body


verb (mainly intr)
  1. to show the characteristics of life; be alive
  2. to remain alive or in existence
  3. to exist in a specified wayto live poorly
  4. (usually foll by in or at) to reside or dwellto live in London
  5. (often foll by on) to continue or lastthe pain still lives in her memory
  6. (usually foll by by) to order one's life (according to a certain philosophy, religion, etc)
  7. (foll by on, upon, or by) to support one's style of life; subsistto live by writing
  8. (foll by with) to endure the effects (of a crime, mistake, etc)
  9. (foll by through) to experience and survivehe lived through the war
  10. (tr) to pass or spend (one's life, etc)
  11. to enjoy life to the fullhe knows how to live
  12. (tr) to put into practice in one's daily life; expresshe lives religion every day
  13. live and let live to refrain from interfering in others' lives; to be tolerant
  14. where one lives US informal in one's sensitive or defenceless position

Word Origin for live

Old English libban, lifian; related to Old High German libēn, Old Norse lifa


  1. (prenominal) showing the characteristics of life
  2. (usually prenominal) of, relating to, or abounding in lifethe live weight of an animal
  3. (usually prenominal) of current interest; controversiala live issue
  4. actuala real live cowboy
  5. informal full of life and energy
  6. (of a coal, ember, etc) glowing or burning
  7. (esp of a volcano) not extinct
  8. loaded or capable of explodinga live bomb
  9. radio television transmitted or present at the time of performance, rather than being a recordinga live show
  10. (of a record)
    1. recorded in concert
    2. recorded in one studio take, without overdubs or splicing
  11. connected to a source of electric powera live circuit
  12. (esp of a colour or tone) brilliant or splendid
  13. acoustically reverberanta live studio
  14. sport (of a ball) in play
  15. (of rocks, ores, etc) not quarried or mined; native
  16. being in a state of motion or transmitting power; positively connected to a driving member
  17. printing
    1. (of copy) not yet having been set into type
    2. (of type that has been set) still in use
  1. during, at, or in the form of a live performancethe show went out live

Word Origin for live

C16: from on live alive
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 lives



Old English lifian (Anglian), libban (West Saxon) "to be, to live, have life; to experience," also "to supply oneself with food, to pass life (in some condition)," from Proto-Germanic *liben (cf. Old Norse lifa "to live, remain," Old Frisian libba, German leben, Gothic liban "to live"), from PIE root *leip- "to remain, continue" (cf. Greek liparein "to persist, persevere;" see leave). Meaning "to make a residence, dwell" is from c.1200. Related: Lived; living.

According to the Dutch Prouerbe ... Leuen ende laetan leuen, To liue and to let others liue. [Malynes, 1622]

To live it up "live gaily and extravagantly" is from 1903. To live up to "act in accordance with" is 1690s, from earlier live up "live on a high (moral or mental) level" (1680s). To live (something) down "outwear (some slander or embarrassment)" is from 1842. To live with "cohabit as husband and wife" is attested from 1749; sense of "to put up with" is attested from 1937. Expression live and learn is attested from c.1620.



1540s, "having life," later (1610s) "burning, glowing," a shortening of alive (q.v.). Sense of "containing unspent energy or power" (live ammunition, etc.) is from 1799. Meaning "in-person" (of performance) is first attested 1934. Live wire is attested from 1890; figurative sense of "active person" is from 1903.



Old English life (dative lif) "existence, lifetime, way of life, condition of being a living thing, opposite of death," from Proto-Germanic *libam (cf. Old Norse lif "life, body," Dutch lijf "body," Old High German lib "life," German Leib "body"), properly "continuance, perseverance," from PIE *leip- "to remain, persevere, continue; stick, adhere" (see leave (v.)). Much of the modern range of meanings was present in Old English. Meaning "property which distinguishes living from non-living matter" is from 1560s. Sense of "vitality, energy" is from 1580s. Extended 1703 to "term of duration (of inanimate objects)."

Life-jacket is from 1840; life-preserver from 1630s of anything that is meant to save a life, 1803 of devices worn to prevent drowning. Life-saver is from 1883, figurative use from 1909, as a brand of hard sugar candy, from 1912, so called for shape. Life-form is from 1861. Life cycle is from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lives in Medicine


n. pl. lives (līvz)
  1. 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.
  2. The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.
  3. Living organisms considered as a group.
  4. A living being, especially a person.


  1. Having life; alive.
  2. Capable of replicating in a host's cells.
  3. Containing living microorganisms or viruses capable of replicating in a host's cells.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

lives in Science


  1. The properties or qualities that distinguish living plants and organisms from dead or inanimate matter, including the capacity to grow, metabolize nutrients, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and adapt to the environment. The definitive beginning and end of human life are complex concepts informed by medical, legal, sociological, and religious considerations.
  2. Living organisms considered as a group, such as the plants or animals of a given region.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with lives


In addition to the idioms beginning with life

  • life and death
  • life is too short
  • life of Riley
  • life of the party

also see:

  • bet one's ass (life)
  • big as life
  • breathe new life into
  • bring to life
  • change of life
  • charmed life
  • come alive (to life)
  • dog's life
  • facts of life
  • for dear life
  • for the life of
  • get a life
  • good life
  • late in life
  • lay down (one's life)
  • lead a double life
  • matter of life and death
  • new lease on life
  • not on your life
  • of one's life
  • once in a lifetime
  • prime of life
  • risk life and limb
  • run for it (one's life)
  • staff of life
  • story of my life
  • take someone's life
  • to save one's life
  • to the life
  • true to (life)
  • variety is the spice of life
  • walk of life
  • while there's life there's hope
  • you bet (your life)


In addition to the idioms beginning with live

  • live and learn
  • live and let live
  • live by one's wits
  • live dangerously
  • live down
  • live for the moment
  • live from day to day
  • live from hand to mouth
  • live happily ever after
  • live high off the hog
  • live in
  • live in each other's pockets
  • live in sin
  • live it up
  • live like a king
  • live on
  • live on borrowed time
  • live on the edge
  • live out
  • live through
  • live together
  • live up to
  • live wire
  • live with

also see:

  • alive (live) and kicking
  • as I live and breathe
  • close to home (where one lives)
  • (live from) day to day
  • fat of the land, live off the
  • high off the hog, live
  • in one's pocket (live in each other's pockets)
  • learn to live with
  • people who live in glass houses
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.