- /laIf/ noun plural lives
PERIOD OF LIVING
1 (C, U) the period between a person's birth and death during which they are alive: Learning goes on throughout life. | You have your whole life ahead of you. | in your life: I'd never seen the woman before in my life. | spend your life: She spent her life moving from one town to another. | all your life (=for the whole of your life): I've lived in Mayo all my life. | early life (=the part of your life when you were young): We don't know much about the poet's early life. | in later life (=in the later part of your life): My grandfather was troubled with illness in later life. | late in life (=when you are older than the usual age): She had her children late in life. | for life (=not changing for the rest of your life): As far as I'm concerned, when you get married it's for life. | working life (=the part of your life when you are working): Norman had started his working life in the shipyards.HUMAN EXPERIENCES2 A PERSON'S EXPERIENCES (countable usually singular) the kind of experience that someone has during their life: a life spent at sea | lead a happy/exciting/normal etc life: Maria led a full and happy life. | a hard life (=a life full of difficulty and trouble) | live a life of crime/sacrifice etc: Marc dreamed of getting rich and living a life of luxury.-see also: life story3 TYPICAL EXPERIENCES (C, U) all the experiences and activities that are typical of a particular way of living: army/city/country etc life: Isobel was bored with country life and longed for London. | the life of a soldier/film star etc: According to his book, the life of a rock star is not a happy one. | married life: after 25 years of married life4 private/social/sex etc life activities in your life that are private, done with friends, concerned with sex etc: She enjoys a very active social life.5 ALL HUMAN EXPERIENCE (U) all human existence considered as a variety of activities and experiences: My Aunt Julia had very little experience of life. | life's rich pattern | Life was hard in the mining communities.6 way of life the way someone chooses to live their life: a traditional way of life | the American way of life7 quality of life the level of health, comfort, and pleasure in someone's life8 be sb's (whole) life to be the most important thing or person in someone's life: Music is Laura's whole life.9 start/make a new life to completely change your life, for example by moving to another place: They emigrated to Australia to start a new life there.LIFE AND DEATH10 ALIVE NOT DEAD (C, U) the state of being alive: Miss Byatt thinks her life is in danger. | Smoke detectors protect life and property. | save sb's life: A seatbelt could save your life. | risk your life: Two firefighters risked their lives to rescue the children. | risk life and limb (=do something that is very dangerous) | lose your life (=die): Thousands lost their lives in the earthquake. | take your own life (=deliberately kill yourself) | give your life/lay down your life (=die in order to save other people or because of a strong belief) | take sb's life (=kill someone) | take your life in your (own) hands (=put yourself in danger of death): Every time you cross these busy roads you take your life in your hands.11 a matter of life and death a serious situation in which someone might dieLIVING THINGS12 (U)a) the quality that animals and plants have and that rocks, machines, and dead bodies do not have: the seeds of life | bring sth to life (=make something live): In the story the artist brings the statue to life.b) living things, such as people, animals, or plants: Is there is life on other planets? | animal/plant/bird life: The island is rich in bird life.REAL/TRUE13 real life what really happens as opposed to what happens in people's imaginations or in stories: a real life drama | in real life: In real life crimes are never solved by amateur detectives.14 paint/draw from life to paint or draw something real, not from another picture15 be true to life to represent life as it really is: I prefer stories that are true to life.HOW LONG STH CONTINUES16 (singular)a) the period of time during which something takes place or exists(+ of): during the life of the present parliamentb) the period of time during which something is still good enough to use or fresh enough eat(+ of): What's the average life of a passenger aircraft? -see also: shelf life ACTIVITY/EXCITEMENT17 (U) activity or movement: sign of life: The door was open but there was no sign of life.18 come to life to start to become exciting or interesting: The game really came to life in the second half.19 bring sth to life to make something more exciting or interesting: Her songs bring our history to life again.20 full of life very cheerful and active: Katie seemed young and full of life.21 come to life/roar into life/splutter into life etc to suddenly start working: Finally the car spluttered into life.22 be the life and soul of the party to be the person who brings fun and excitement to a social group or occasionOTHER MEANINGS23 get a life! spoken used to tell someone you think they are boring24 that's life spoken used when you are disappointed or upset that something has happened but realize that you must accept it: Oh well, that's life!25 have the time of your life to have a very enjoyable time: The kids had the time of their lives at the waterslide.26 make life difficult/easier etc to make it difficult, easier etc to do something: This constant complaining isn't going to make life any easier!27 for dear life with the greatest possible effort and strength, especially in order to avoid harm: Vera was clinging onto the branch for dear life.28 cannot for the life of me spoken used to say that you cannot remember or understand something even when you try hard: I cannot for the life of me see why you are so annoyed.29 not on your life spoken used to say that you definitely will not do something30 PRISON (U) also life imprisonment the punishment of being put in prison for the rest of your life: He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.-see also: life sentence31 the race/game/fright etc of your life the best race you have ever run, the best game you have ever played32 be the life and soul of the party to make people feel happy by talking a lot, telling jokes etc33 BOOK/FILM (U) the story of someone's life; biography: Boswell's Life of Johnson34 the next life/the life to come a continued existence that is expected after death35 the woman/man in your life the woman or man with whom you have a sexual or romantic relationship-see also: high life, low life, change of life, as large as life large (6), lease of life lease 1 (2) USAGE NOTE: LIFE WORD CHOICE: life, living In general, the word life relates to the whole experience of living while the word living is more about the physical needs of living, for example, how much money you need, etc: He had a good life means that he had a lot of good experiences and enjoyed it but They have a pretty good living means they have enough food, money etc. If you make or earn a living doing something, the work you do means you can provide yourself with the things that are necessary for life: Joanne earns a living as a dancer in a nightclub. If you make a life for yourself somewhere, you go there and find work, establish a home etc: thousands of refugees, seeking a new life across the border The way in which someone or a group of people generally lives is their way of life, or less often their way of living. If you are thinking more of the sort of rooms people live in, whether they have things like water, heating etc, you talk about their living conditions (NOT life conditions): the appalling living conditions of millions of old people If you are thinking of the level of comfort of someone's life, and how much money they have to spend on things that are not necessary, you talk about their standard of living: Most Americans have a higher standard of living than Europeans. The cost of living is how much people need to spend in order to buy necessary things: The cost of living keeps rising, but my salary stays the same (NOT the cost of life). If you are thinking more of the type of food that someone enjoys eating, the exercise they take, and what they do when they are not working, you talk about their lifestyle: The typical lifestyle of a 60s rock star included lots of alcohol, sex and drugs. If you are talking about how enjoyable someone's life is, you call it their quality of life: Having a decent washing machine would improve the quality of my life no end! GRAMMAR When talking about life (U) in general, you never use the: Life is hard (NOT The life...)).| She loves life in the city.
Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.