life life [laɪf] noun lives PLURALFORM [laɪvz] [countable]
1. the period of time during which something takes place or exists:

• industrial products used during the life of a mining operation

• The rate of interest is often subsidized and fixed for the life of the loan.

2. the period of time during which something is still good enough to use, fresh enough to eat etc:
life of

• Our general purpose machinery has an estimated useful life of 80,000 running hours.

• Castrol GTX2 oil has been specially formulated to prolong the life of catalytic converters.

deˌpreciable ˈlife
TAX ACCOUNTING the number of years over which the cost of something that goes down in value, especially a fixed asset, can be claimed against tax
ˌeconomic ˈlife ACCOUNTING
the length of time that an asset such as a building or machine produces more money than it costs to operate, or before it costs so much to repair that it should no longer be kept:

• Almost 15% of buses in service in the county are more than 15 years old, the limit of their economic life.

ˈshelf life
1. COMMERCE the length of time that a product, especially food, can be kept in a shop before it becomes too old to sell or use:

• Chocolate bars usually have a shelf life of just nine months.

2. MARKETING the length of time that a particular product is popular before people no longer want to buy it:

• Many books only have a shelf life of six months.

ˌuseful ˈlife ACCOUNTING
the period of time during which something can be used, before it becomes too old or in too bad condition. The useful life of an asset is important in calculating depreciation (= the amount it falls in value over time):

• The average recommended useful life for such small appliances is six to seven years.

3. service/​working life the period of time during which a person works:

• The average remaining service life of employees at the end of the last financial year was 10 years.

• Managers may spend as much as 50% of their working lives engaged in meetings.

4. for life until a person's death, or until the end of their working life:

• The balance of the pension fund is used for an annuity giving a guaranteed income for life.

• Few people can count on having a job for life.

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life UK /laɪf/ noun (plural lives /laɪvz/)
[C ] the amount of time that something exists or works: the life of a mortgage/loan/investment »

He would reach retirement during the life of the mortgage.

begin/start life »

The firm began life as a direct marketing company.

[C] the amount of time that something can be used: »

Increasing the battery life of the phone is important.


If the maintenance continues at its current level, the useful life of the facility will be significantly shortened.

[C or U] the time that someone is alive, the things that happen to them, and the way they spend their time: »

The hit TV series was inspired by the life of the comedian Chris Rock.


She says she was inspired to a life of public service by her father.


Matt is someone who enjoys life to the full.

[C] the time that someone spends doing particular things: personal/private life »

This job doesn't leave much time for a personal life.


I've met a lot of interesting people in my working life.

[ U] a way of living that is typical of a particular place or situation: city/country/town life »

I'm not somebody who longs for city life.


corporate/civilian/military life


daily/day-to-day/everyday life

See also DEPRECIABLE LIFE(Cf. ↑depreciable life), ECONOMIC LIFE(Cf. ↑economic life), EXPECTATION OF LIFE(Cf. ↑expectation of life), JOB FOR LIFE(Cf. ↑job for life), NON-LIFE(Cf. ↑non-life), SHELF LIFE(Cf. ↑shelf life)

Financial and business terms. 2012.