Origin of living

before 900; (adj.) Middle English lyvyng(e); replacing earlier liviende, Old English lifgende (see live1, -ing2); (noun) Middle English living(e) (see -ing1)
Related formsliv·ing·ly, adverbliv·ing·ness, nounnon·liv·ing, adjective, nounqua·si-liv·ing, adjectiveun·liv·ing, adjective

Synonyms for living

1. live, quick. 2. existing, surviving. 3. lively, flourishing. 12. sustenance, subsistence.

Synonym study

12. Living, livelihood, maintenance, support refer, directly or indirectly, to what is earned or spent for subsistence. Living and livelihood (a somewhat more formal word), both refer to what one earns to keep (oneself) alive, but are seldom interchangeable within the same phrase: to earn one's living; to seek one's livelihood. “To make a living” suggests making just enough to keep alive, and is particularly frequent in the negative: You cannot make a living out of that. “To make a livelihood out of something” suggests rather making a business of it: to make a livelihood out of trapping foxes. Maintenance and support refer usually to what is spent for the living of another: to provide for the maintenance or support of someone. Maintenance occasionally refers to the allowance itself provided for livelihood: They are entitled to a maintenance from this estate.

Antonyms for living

1. dead. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for non-living

Historical Examples of non-living

  • Is the line to be so drawn as to admit any of the non-living within the body?

    Luck or Cunning

    Samuel Butler

  • The mineral kingdom of the non-living passes into the living.

  • Protoplasm differs from non-living matter in three respects.

    The Chemistry of Plant Life

    Roscoe Wilfred Thatcher

  • How in general are the phenomena of life related to those of the non-living world?


    Edmund Beecher Wilson

  • Thus matter, living or non-living, could be flashed tremendous distances in a second!

British Dictionary definitions for non-living



  1. possessing life; not dead
  2. (as collective noun preceded by the)the living
having the characteristics of life (used esp to distinguish organisms from nonliving matter)
currently in use or validliving language
seeming to be reala living image
(of animals or plants) existing in the present age; extantCompare extinct (def. 1)
geology another word for live 2 (def. 15)
presented by actors before a live audienceliving theatre
(prenominal) (intensifier)the living daylights


the condition of being alive
the manner in which one conducts one's lifefast living
the means, esp the financial means, whereby one lives
Church of England another term for benefice
(modifier) of, involving, or characteristic of everyday lifeliving area
(modifier) of or involving those now alive (esp in the phrase living memory)
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 non-living



"alive," also "residing, staying," c.1200, from present participle of live (v.)).



"living persons," late Old English; early 14c. as "the fact of dwelling in some place," from Old English lifiende "that lives or has life," present participle of lifan (see live (v.)). The meaning "action, process, or method of gaining one's livelihood" is attested from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper