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the act of ; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism.
Compare .
an instance of this:
a death in the family; letters published after his death.
the state of being dead:
to lie still in death.
extinction; destruction:
It will mean the death of our hopes.
manner of dying:
a hero’s death.
(usually initial capital letter) the agent of death personified, usually represented as a man or a skeleton carrying a scythe.
Compare .
Also called spiritual death. loss or absence of spiritual life.
Christian Science. the false belief that life comes to an end.
bloodshed or murder:
Hitler was responsible for the death of millions.
a cause or occasion of death:
You’ll be the death of me yet!
Archaic. pestilence; plague.
Compare .
at death’s door, in serious danger of death; gravely ill:
Two survivors of the crash are still at death’s door.
be death on, Informal.

to be excessively strict about:
That publisher is death on sloppily typed manuscripts.
to be snobbish about or toward.
to be able to cope with easily and successfully:
The third baseman is death on pop flies.

do to death,

to kill, especially to murder.
to repeat too often, to the point of becoming monotonous and boring:
That theme has been done to death.

in at the death,

Fox Hunting. present at the kill.
present at the climax or conclusion of a situation.

put to death, to kill; execute.
to death, to an extreme degree; thoroughly:
sick to death of the heat.
Contemporary Examples

After 15 years on death Row, that was commuted to two life sentences.
Did Pablo Escobar Frame a Millionaire for Murdering Banana-Shipping Money Launderers? Jacqui Goddard November 10, 2014

She had seen the plight of hundreds of people and was no stranger to death.
How To Avoid Brain Death Purgatory Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD, Robert M. Lober, MD, PhD January 30, 2014

My sleep is hot and jaw-tensed and filled with dreams of death.
Gaza, You’re No Good For My Marriage Josh Robin August 8, 2014

But in these areas, there is no need for a military presence on the ground; death comes from above.
In War Against Assad, Death Comes From Above Clare Morgana Gillis August 25, 2012

A Dorset police spokesman said Old Harrovian Mr Harbord’s death was not being treated as suspicious.
Harry’s ex-Girlfriend’s Father Commits Suicide Tom Sykes May 27, 2012

Historical Examples

And this would certainly happen to him on his mother’s death.
Murder Point Coningsby Dawson

You know we wouldn’t think of stopping when it may mean life or death to you.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

They shewed to every guest a skeleton: this, according to some, was to make them think of death.
Ebrietatis Encomium Boniface Oinophilus

I don’t think he ever got over the death of his brother, about a year ago.
Punchinello, Vol. 1. No. 20, August 13, 1870 Various

After a death the friends of the family should call in person inside of a month.
The Etiquette of To-day Edith B. Ordway

the permanent end of all functions of life in an organism or some of its cellular components
an instance of this: his death ended an era
a murder or killing: he had five deaths on his conscience
termination or destruction: the death of colonialism
a state of affairs or an experience considered as terrible as death: your constant nagging will be the death of me
a cause or source of death
(usually capital) a personification of death, usually a skeleton or an old man holding a scythe

to death, to the death, until dead: bleed to death, a fight to the death
to death, excessively: bored to death

at death’s door, likely to die soon
(informal) catch one’s death, catch one’s death of cold, to contract a severe cold
do to death

to kill
to overuse (a joke, etc) so that it no longer has any effect

in at the death

present when an animal that is being hunted is caught and killed
present at the finish or climax

(informal) like death warmed up, very ill
like grim death, as if afraid for one’s life
put to death, to kill deliberately or execute

Old English deað “death, dying, cause of death,” in plura, “ghosts,” from Proto-Germanic *dauthaz (cf. Old Saxon doth, Old Frisian dath, Dutch dood, Old High German tod, German Tod, Old Norse dauði, Danish død, Swedish död, Gothic dauþas “death”), from verbal stem *dheu- (3) “to die” (see die (v.)) + *-thuz suffix indicating “act, process, condition.”

I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not have him meerly seise me, and onely declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me. When I must shipwrack, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotencie might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming. [John Donne, letter to Sir Henry Goodere, Sept. 1608]

Death’s-head, a symbol of mortality, is from 1590s. Death row first recorded 1940s. Death knell is attested from 1814; death penalty from 1875; death rate from 1859. Slang be death on “be very good at” is from 1839. Death wish first recorded 1896. The death-watch beetle (1660s) inhabits houses, makes a ticking noise like a watch, and was superstitiously supposed to portend death.

FEW ears have escaped the noise of the death-watch, that is, the little clickling sound heard often in many rooms, somewhat resembling that of a watch; and this is conceived to be of an evil omen or prediction of some person’s death: wherein notwithstanding there is nothing of rational presage or just cause of terror unto melancholy and meticulous heads. For this noise is made by a little sheathwinged grey insect, found often in wainscot benches and wood-work in the summer. [Browne, “Vulgar Errors”]

death (děth)
The end of life; the permanent cessation of vital bodily functions, as manifested in humans by the loss of heartbeat, the absence of spontaneous breathing, and brain death.
The end of life of an organism or cell. In humans and animals, death is manifested by the permanent cessation of vital organic functions, including the absence of heartbeat, spontaneous breathing, and brain activity. Cells die as a result of external injury or by an orderly, programmed series of self-destructive events known as apoptosis. The most common causes of death for humans in well-developed countries are cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, certain chronic diseases such as diabetes and emphysema, lung infections, and accidents. See also brain death.

Related Terms

kiss of death, look like death warmed over, sudden death

may be simply defined as the termination of life. It is represented under a variety of aspects in Scripture: (1.) “The dust shall return to the earth as it was” (Eccl. 12:7). (2.) “Thou takest away their breath, they die” (Ps. 104:29). (3.) It is the dissolution of “our earthly house of this tabernacle” (2 Cor. 5:1); the “putting off this tabernacle” (2 Pet. 1:13, 14). (4.) Being “unclothed” (2 Cor. 5:3, 4). (5.) “Falling on sleep” (Ps. 76:5; Jer. 51:39; Acts 13:36; 2 Pet. 3:9. (6.) “I go whence I shall not return” (Job 10:21); “Make me to know mine end” (Ps. 39:4); “to depart” (Phil. 1:23). The grave is represented as “the gates of death” (Job 38:17; Ps. 9:13; 107:18). The gloomy silence of the grave is spoken of under the figure of the “shadow of death” (Jer. 2:6). Death is the effect of sin (Heb. 2:14), and not a “debt of nature.” It is but once (9:27), universal (Gen. 3:19), necessary (Luke 2:28-30). Jesus has by his own death taken away its sting for all his followers (1 Cor. 15:55-57). There is a spiritual death in trespasses and sins, i.e., the death of the soul under the power of sin (Rom. 8:6; Eph. 2:1, 3; Col. 2:13). The “second death” (Rev. 2:11) is the everlasting perdition of the wicked (Rev. 21:8), and “second” in respect to natural or temporal death. THE DEATH OF CHRIST is the procuring cause incidentally of all the blessings men enjoy on earth. But specially it is the procuring cause of the actual salvation of all his people, together with all the means that lead thereto. It does not make their salvation merely possible, but certain (Matt. 18:11; Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 2:16; Rom. 8:32-35).

death and taxes, certain as
death knell
death of
death on

also see:

at death’s door
be the death of
bore to death
catch cold (one’s death)
fate worse than death
in at the death
kiss of death
look like death (warmed over)
matter of life and death
put to death
scare out of one’s wits (to death)
sign one’s own death warrant
thrill to pieces (to death)
tickled pink (to death)
to death

also see under:


Read Also:

  • At death’s door

    the act of ; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism. Compare . an instance of this: a death in the family; letters published after his death. the state of being dead: to lie still in death. extinction; destruction: It will mean the death of […]

  • At discretion

    the power or right to decide or act according to one’s own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice: It is entirely within my discretion whether I will go or stay. the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one’s own actions or speech; prudence or decorum: Throwing all discretion to the winds, he blurted […]

  • Double

    twice as large, heavy, strong, etc.; twofold in size, amount, number, extent, etc.: a double portion; a new house double the size of the old one. composed of two like parts or members; twofold in form; paired: double doors; a double sink. of, relating to, or suitable for two persons: a double room. twofold in […]

  • Drop

    a small quantity of liquid that falls or is produced in a more or less spherical mass; a liquid globule. the quantity of liquid contained in such a globule. a very small quantity of liquid: I’ll have a little more tea, just a drop. a minute quantity of anything: not even a drop of mercy. […]

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