when a life finishes:
He became manager of the company after his father's death.
There are thousands of deaths in car accidents every year.
death S1 W1 /deθ/ BrE AmE noun
[Word Family: noun: ↑dead, ↑death, deadliness; adjective: ↑dead, ↑deadly, ↑deathly; adverb: ↑deadly, ↑deathly; verb: ↑deaden]
[Language: Old English]
a) [uncountable] the end of the life of a person or animal
The death of his mother came as a tremendous shock.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in women.
How Danielle met her death (=died) will probably never be known.
His friend was close to death.
His family are still mourning John’s tragic death.
the anniversary of Lenin’s death
bleed/burn/starve etc to death
a homeless man who froze to death
beat/stab/shoot etc somebody to death
The 76-year-old pensioner was beaten to death.
put/sentence/condemn somebody to death (=kill someone or decide they should be killed as an official punishment)
Legend has it that Sarah was put to death for practising witchcraft.
Members of the family have received death threats.
He remained president until his untimely death (=death at a surprisingly young age).
Two of the passengers managed to escape death (=avoid being killed).
b) [countable] a particular case when someone dies OPP birth:
a campaign to reduce the number of traffic deaths
deaths from cancer
I heard there’d been a death in the family.
2. the death of something the permanent end of something OPP birth:
The latest bombing is the death of all our hopes.
These regulations could spell the death (=lead to the end) of the American car industry.
3. to death informal
a) used to emphasize that a feeling or emotion is very strong
be bored/scared/frightened etc to death
She was scared to death of what might happen next.
I’m absolutely sick to death of it (=very angry, bored, or unhappy about something).
bore/scare/love etc somebody to death
He drove at a speed which frightened Leonora to death.
She used to worry me to death.
b) used to say that an action is continued with a lot of effort and for as long as possible:
They just work you to death in that place.
4. do something to death informal to perform or present an idea, joke etc so often that people become tired of it:
Most of his material has been done to death by numerous comedians.
5. to the death
a) until someone is dead:
They will fight to the death rather than give an inch of ground.
soldiers locked in a struggle to the death
b) until you achieve something even if it means that you suffer:
The leadership election has become a fight to the death.
6. Death a creature that looks like a human ↑skeleton, used in paintings, stories etc to represent the fact that people die
7. be at death’s door to be very ill and likely to die
8. look/feel like death warmed up British English, look/feel like death warmed over American English informal to look or feel very ill or tired
9. you’ll catch your death (of cold) spoken old-fashioned used to warn someone that they are likely to become ill because they are wet or cold
10. somebody will be the death of me spoken old-fashioned used to say that someone is causing you a lot of worry and problems:
That boy will be the death of me!
⇨ ↑Black Death, ⇨ kiss of death at ↑kiss2(3), ⇨ life and death at ↑life(10)
• • •
▪ cause death We still don't know what caused his death.
▪ lead to/result in death Any delay in calling an ambulance may have resulted in her death.
▪ bleed/freeze/burn/starve to death Thousands of people are starving to death.
▪ stab/beat/kick somebody to death He was stabbed to death in an attack outside his home.
▪ sentence/condemn somebody to death (=decide someone must die as an official punishment) Two men were sentenced to death for the killings.
▪ be put to death (=be killed as a punishment for something you have done) The rebels were defeated and their leaders put to death.
▪ escape death (=avoid being killed) He fell while climbing in the mountains, and only narrowly escaped death.
▪ meet your death formal (=die) He met his death tragically while on holiday in Greece.
▪ mourn somebody's death (=feel very sad after someone has died) The entertainment world was last night mourning the actor's death.
▪ sudden death Her sudden death shocked the world.
▪ tragic death Her family are trying to come to terms with Anna's tragic death.
▪ early death (=at a young age) Paul's first marriage ended with the early death of his wife.
▪ untimely death formal (=at a young age) He remained President until his untimely death in 2004.
▪ premature death technical (=earlier than people usually die) The disease is a significant cause of premature death in the developing world.
▪ accidental death (=caused by accident, not deliberately) The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
▪ violent death (=caused by violence, especially deliberately) There is a high rate of violent death in America.
▪ certain death (=definitely going to happen) Many of the prisoners faced certain death.
■ death + NOUN
▪ the death penalty (=the legal punishment of death) In the west, most countries have abolished the death penalty.
▪ the death sentence (=the legal punishment of death) Because of his young age, the judge decided not to impose the death sentence.
▪ the death rate (=the number of people who die each year from something) The death rate from heart attacks is about 50% higher for smokers.
▪ the death toll (=the number of people who die in an accident) Officials fear the death toll could be as high as 3000.
▪ a death threat (=a threat to kill someone deliberately) The writer had received a number of death threats.
▪ the cause of death The cause of death was a bullet in his chest.
▪ a sentence of death (=the official punishment of death for a crime) There were strong protests against the sentence of death.
▪ I. death [death deaths] [deθ] [deθ] noun
1. countable the fact of sb dying or being killed
• a sudden/violent/peaceful, etc. death
• the anniversary of his wife's death
• an increase in deaths from cancer
• He died a slow and painful death.
2. uncountable the end of life; the state of being dead
• Two children were burnt to death in the fire (= they died as a result of the fire).
• He's drinking himself to death (= so that it will kill him).
• Police are trying to establish the cause of death.
• Do you believe in life after death?
• a death camp (= a place where prisoners are killed, usually in a war)
• He was sentenced to death (= to be executed ).
3. uncountable ~ of sth the permanent end or destruction of sth
• the death of all my plans
• the death of fascism
4. (also Death) uncountable (literary) the power that destroys life, imagined as human in form
• Death is often shown in paintings as a human skeleton.
• Death marched in and took him away.
see also sudden death
more at catch your death (of cold) at catch v., cheat death at cheat v., dice with death at dice v., die a/the death at die v., a fate worse than death at fate, fight to the death/finish at fight v., flog sth to death at flog, hang/hold on for/like grim death at grim, the kiss of death at kiss n., life after death at life, a matter of life and death at matter n.
Idioms: at death's door ▪ do something to death ▪ look like death warmed up ▪ put somebody to death ▪ scare somebody to death ▪ the death ▪ the death of somebody
See also: like death warmed over
Old English dēath, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dood and German Tod, also to die.
• By 1740 European feudalism was in its death throes.
• By publicly condemning the terrorists he was signing his own death warrant.
• Chicago's birth and death records
• Delivering on time is a matter of life and death for a small company.
• Do you believe in life after death?
• Four prisoners were under sentence of death.
• He died as a prisoner of war in an enemy death camp.
• He escaped death by inches when a tree fell on his tent.
• He had been miraculously saved from almost certain death.
• He met his death two years later.
• He took drugs as if he had some kind of death wish.
• He witnessed the death of his mother from tuberculosis.
• Her death came at the age of 82.
• His face looked more peaceful in death than it had during his last days.
• How far would they go to avenge the death of their friend?
• If found guilty of drug trafficking, the pair could face the death penalty.
• Incest was punishable by death.
• It was clear that the dog was near death.
• It's a curious sensation, knowing that your death is approaching soon.
• It's easier to trace ancestors if you know their birth or death dates.
• More deaths occur in winter.
• More than 30% of all cancer deaths in the country can be attributed to smoking.
• No deaths from the disease have been recorded since 1990.
• Obesity is a leading cause of preventable deaths.
• On Samuel's death, the farm passed to his sons.
• Paramilitary death squads are operating in the area.
• Paramilitary death squads are rumoured to be operating in the area.
• People can sue for wrongful death.
• Police are not treating the death as suspicious.
• Police report a decrease in violent deaths.
• Poor living conditions can lead to early death.
• She died a slow and painful death.
• She faked her own death so he couldn't find her.
• The actor has received death threats since appearing in the controversial film.
• The average age at death of plague victims was 14.
• The bombing resulted in many civilian deaths.
• The brutal attack resulted in the man's death.
• The coroner said the cause of death was a stroke.
• The death toll in the earthquake has been put at over one thousand.
• The government's campaign aims to cut the death rate from heart attacks.
• The most common cause of neonatal death is birth defects.
• The movie contains plenty of death scenes.
• The president's untimely death has thrown the country into chaos.
• The prisoners were sent on a death march through the jungle.
• The snake was writhing in its death agonies.
• There are currently over 3 000 prisoners on death row.
• They are still mourning the death of their daughter.
• Touching the wires means instant death.
• Two deaths from cholera have been reported.
• What kind of man orders the death of his own sister?
• Women accounted for 2% of all combat deaths.
• Your next of kin will receive death benefit if you die in an accident.
• a death notice in the newspaper
• a service to commemorate the death of thousands of soldiers
• a verdict of accidental death
• an increase in drug overdose deaths
• death by starvation
• deaths resulting from disease
• drugs which will hasten the death of a terminally ill patient
• needless deaths in a war created by hatred
• the drivers who bring death to our roads
• the living death of captivity
• the tragic death of their son
• Police are still trying to establish the cause of death.
• Two children were burnt to death in the fire.
• a sudden/violent/peaceful death
• the anniversary of his wife's death
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition
death / deθ / noun [ C or U ]
B1 the end of life:
The disease causes thousands of deaths a year.
Do you believe in life after death?
He never got over the death of his daughter.
bored, frightened, etc. to death
B2 extremely bored, frightened, etc.
to death C2 until you die:
The animals burned to death in the barn.
He choked to death on a fish bone.
The traitor was put to death (= killed as a punishment) .
the death of sb/sth the cause of the end of life, or the end or destruction of something:
The failure of the family business was the death of him.
That child will be the death of me (= is always doing something which upsets me) !
Word partners for death
bleed / choke / freeze / starve to death • be beaten / crushed / stabbed / trampled to death • condemned to / put to / sentenced to death • escape death • mourn / get over sb's death • premature / sudden / tragic / untimely death • a (leading/major) cause of death • death from sth
© Cambridge University Press 2013
1) N-VAR Death is the permanent end of the life of a person or animal.
1.5 million people are in immediate danger of death from starvation.
...the thirtieth anniversary of her death...
The report mentions the death of 18 people in suspicious circumstances...
They were told only that there had been a death in the family.
2) N-COUNT: with supp A particular kind of death is a particular way of dying.
They made sure that he died a horrible death...
He would rather have a decent death which served some purpose than a meaningless death.
3) N-SING: usu the N of n The death of something is the permanent end of it.
It meant the death of everything he had ever been or ever hoped to be.
...the death of pop music.
4) PHRASE: v-link PHR If you say that someone is at death's door, you mean they are very ill indeed and likely to die. [INFORMAL]
He told his boss a tale about his mother being at death's door...
My dad was the same. He could be at death's door but wouldn't say a word.
5) PHRASE: V inflects (emphasis) If you say that you will fight to the death for something, you are emphasizing that you will do anything to achieve or protect it, even if you suffer as a consequence.
He said they did not want war - but if attacked they would fight to the death...
She'd have fought to the death for that child.
6) PHRASE (emphasis) If you refer to a fight or contest as a fight to the death, you are emphasizing that it will not stop until the death or total victory of one of the opponents.
...an eleven-hour fight to the death between a baboon and leopard...
He now faces a fight to the death to reach the quarter-finals.
7) PHRASE: n of PHR, PHR n (emphasis) If you say that something is a matter of life and death, you are emphasizing that it is extremely important, often because someone may die or suffer great harm if people do not act immediately.
Well, never mind, John, it's not a matter of life and death...
We're dealing with a life-and-death situation here...
It is only a hobby, not a life or death struggle.
8) PHRASE: V inflects If someone is put to death, they are executed. [FORMAL]
Those put to death by firing squad included three generals.
9) PHRASE: PHR after v You use to death after a verb to indicate that a particular action or process results in someone's death.
He was stabbed to death.
...relief missions to try to keep the country's population from starving to death...
He almost bled to death after the bullet severed an artery.
10) PHRASE: adj PHR, PHR after v (emphasis) You use to death after an adjective or a verb to emphasize the action, state, or feeling mentioned. For example, if you are frightened to death or bored to death, you are extremely frightened or bored.
He scares teams to death with his pace and power...
Whereas 10 years ago I would have worried myself to death about it, now I accept it is part of the game...
I went out last night, but not for very long. I was bored to death.
11) PHRASE: V inflects (emphasis) If you say that someone works another person to death, you are emphasizing that they make them work very hard indeed, especially in a way that seems cruel or unfair.
They worked themselves to death but never lost their humour.
death /ˈdɛɵ/ noun, pl deaths
1 a [noncount] : the end of life : the time when someone or something dies
• birth, life, and eventual death
• fear of death
• She is close to death. [=she will die soon]
• death threats
• The hostage managed to escape death. [=avoid being killed]
• The newspaper did not report the cause of death.
• She was convicted of murder and sentenced/condemned to death. [=told that she would be killed as punishment]
- see also brain death death knell at knell
b [count] : the ending of a particular person's life
• People around the world mourned his death.
• She worked at the newspaper until her death at (age) 74.
• The accident resulted in two deaths.
• The number of deaths from cancer is rising.
• He died a violent/tragic death.
• There has been a death in the family.
• She survived the plane crash and many years later died a natural death. [=from natural causes; because she was old]
• The general met his death on the battlefield.
2 [count] : the permanent end of something that is not alive : the ruin or destruction of something
• the death of innocence
• the death of vaudeville
• the death of a marriage
3 Death [noncount] literary : the force that ends life and is often shown in art or literature as a skeleton
• Death could be seen lurking in the corner of the painting.
• when Death comes to take me away
a matter of life and death
- see 1life
at death's door : about to die : very sick and in danger of dying
• He is sick, but he's not at death's door.
be the death of : to cause (someone) to die
• I worry that his drug addiction will be the death of him.
- often used figuratively
• Those kids will be the death of me! [=they worry and upset me very much]
catch your death (of cold)
- see 1catch
like death warmed over US or Brit like death warmed up informal : very tired or sick
• We worked through the night, and by morning we looked like death warmed over.
put to death
✦A person or animal that is put to death is killed at a scheduled time by someone who is legally allowed to do so.
• a serial killer who was put to death [=executed] for the murder of 28 people
• The dog that attacked the children was later put to death.
- used to say how someone died or was killed
• He was shot/stabbed to death.
• They froze/starved to death.
• She drank herself to death. [=drank a lot of alcohol until it made her so sick that she died]
2 : very much : to a great degree
• We were bored/scared to death. [=extremely bored/scared]
• That teacher works her students to death. [=she makes them work too hard]
• He's wonderful! I just love him to death!
• I'm sick to death of hearing about the scandal. [=I don't want to hear anything more about the scandal; I've heard too much about it]
• That song has been done to death. [=many musicians have performed that song]
to the death
1 : until someone is dead
• The warriors would fight to the death.
• a battle to the death
2 : with all of your energy and effort
• Some parents do not want the school to be closed, and say they'll fight to the death for it.
- see also black death, kiss of death, sudden death
- death·like /ˈdɛɵˌlaɪk/ adj
• a deathlike state