Etymology: Middle English lif, from Old English līf; akin to Old English libban to live — more at live
Date: before 12th century
a. the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body
b. a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
c. an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
a. the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual
b. one or more aspects of the process of living <sex life of the frog> 3. biography 1 4. spiritual existence transcending physical death 5. a. the period from birth to death b. a specific phase of earthly existence <adult life> c. the period from an event until death <a judge appointed for life> d. a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of a convict's life 6. a way or manner of living 7. livelihood 8. a vital or living being; specifically person <many lives were lost in the disaster> 9. an animating and shaping force or principle 10. spirit, animation <saw no life in her dancing> 11. the form or pattern of something existing in reality <painted from life> 12. the period of duration, usefulness, or popularity of something <the expected life of the batteries> 13. the period of existence (as of a subatomic particle) — compare half-life 14. a property (as resilience or elasticity) of an inanimate substance or object resembling the animate quality of a living being 15. living beings (as of a particular kind or environment) <forest life> 16. a. human activities b. animate activity and movement <stirrings of life> c. the activities of a given sphere, area, or time <the political life of the country> 17. one providing interest and vigor <life of the party> 18. an opportunity for continued viability <gave the patient a new life> 19. capitalized, Christian Science god 1b 20. something resembling animate life <a grant saved the project's life> II. adjective Date: 13th century 1. of or relating to animate being 2. lifelong <a life member> 3. using a living model <a life class> 4. of, relating to, or provided by life insurance <a life policy>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.