for dear life


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Related to for dear life: true-to-life

life

 (līf)
n. pl. lives (līvz)
1.
a. The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.
b. The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.
2. Living organisms considered as a group: plant life; marine life.
3. A living being, especially a person: an earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives.
4. The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence: the artistic life of a writer.
5.
a. The interval of time between birth and death: She led a good, long life.
b. The interval of time between one's birth and the present: has had hay fever all his life.
c. A particular segment of one's life: my adolescent life.
d. The period from an occurrence until death: elected for life; paralyzed for life.
e. Slang A sentence of imprisonment lasting till death.
6. The time for which something exists or functions: the useful life of a car.
7. A spiritual state regarded as a transcending of corporeal death.
8. An account of a person's life; a biography.
9. Human existence, relationships, or activity in general: real life; everyday life.
10.
a. A manner of living: led a hard life.
b. A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: "Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them" (New Republic).
c. The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.
11.
a. A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.
b. Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.
12.
a. Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.
b. Actual environment or reality; nature.
adj.
1. Of or relating to animate existence; involved in or necessary for living: life processes.
2. Continuing for a lifetime; lifelong: life partner; life imprisonment.
3. Using a living model as a subject for an artist: a life sculpture.
Idioms:
as big as life
1. Life-size.
2. Actually present.
bring to life
1. To cause to regain consciousness.
2. To put spirit into; animate.
3. To make lifelike.
come to life
To become animated; grow excited.
for dear life
Desperately or urgently: I ran for dear life when I saw the tiger.
for life
Till the end of one's life.
for the life of (one)
Though trying hard: For the life of me I couldn't remember his name.
not on your life Informal
Absolutely not; not for any reason whatsoever.
take (one's) life
To commit suicide.
take (one's) life in (one's) hands
To take a dangerous risk.
take (someone's) life
To commit murder.
the good life
A wealthy, luxurious way of living.
the life of Riley Informal
An easy life.
the life of the party Informal
An animated, amusing person who is the center of attention at a social gathering.
to save (one's) life
No matter how hard one tries: He can't ski to save his life.
true to life
Conforming to reality.

[Middle English, from Old English līf; see leip- in Indo-European roots.]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.for dear life - as though your life was at stake; "he was running for dear life"
References in classic literature ?
They'd had all the dogs shut up, so they wouldn't scare off the robbers; but by this time somebody had let them loose, and here they come, making powwow enough for a million; but they was our dogs; so we stopped in our tracks till they catched up; and when they see it warn't nobody but us, and no excitement to offer them, they only just said howdy, and tore right ahead towards the shouting and clattering; and then we up-steam again, and whizzed along after them till we was nearly to the mill, and then struck up through the bush to where my canoe was tied, and hopped in and pulled for dear life towards the middle of the river, but didn't make no more noise than we was obleeged to.
Often I have heard the house shaking with "Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum," all the neighbours joining in for dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing louder than the other to avoid remark.
The black, his face streaming blood, was throttling Jerry with both hands around his neck; and Jerry, snorting, choking, snarling, was scratching for dear life with the claws of his hind feet.
The mimic royalty on the stage, with their soaked satins clinging to their bodies, slopped about ankle-deep in water, warbling their sweetest and best, the fiddlers under the eaves of the state sawed away for dear life, with the cold overflow spouting down the backs of their necks, and the dry and happy King sat in his lofty box and wore his gloves to ribbons applauding.
There sat Little John eating away for dear life, while the fat steward was rolled under the table like a bundle of rags.
Quatermain, get Curtis round the middle and pull for dear life when I give the word.
A half mile out in the ocean, sir, in one of the lifeboats, rowing away for dear life.
The boy held the tiller, while against the red glare of the furnace I could see old Smith, stripped to the waist, and shovelling coals for dear life.
He would say the most terrific things to his crew, in a tone so strangely compounded of fun and fury, and the fury seemed so calculated merely as a spice to the fun, that no oarsman could hear such queer invocations without pulling for dear life, and yet pulling for the mere joke of the thing.
He succeeds, and then they are all at it for dear life, up and down the hedge in full cry, the "Come back, come back," getting shriller and fainter every minute.
laughed the ghost, and having peeped through the keyhole at the princesses spinning away for dear life, the evil spirit picked up her victim and put him in a large tin box, where there were eleven other knights packed together without their heads, like sardines, who all rose and began to.
I sighed also, for I had witnessed a struggle for dear life by a man in the flower of his youth, whose looks I liked, whose smile came like the sun through the first break in his torments, and whose first words were to thank me for the little I had done in bare humanity.