From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English alive, alife, olive, olife, on live, on life, from Old English on līf (alive, literally in life" or "in (the) body), from on (on, in) + līf, dative singular of līf (life). In this sense, replaced Old English cwic (whence English quick). Equivalent to a- +‎ life. Compare Dutch in leven (alive, literally in life), German am Leben (alive, literally at life" or "at living).


  • IPA(key): /əˈlaɪv/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪv


alive (comparative more alive, superlative most alive)

  1. Having life; living; not dead.
    As long as the plant is alive, he will continue to water it.
  2. In a state of action; in force or operation; existent.
    to keep the fire alive
    to keep the affections alive
  3. Busy with activity of many living beings; swarming; thronged; busy.
    Although quite dull during the day, the main street comes alive at night, with many bars and clubs opening.
  4. (of electrical wiring) Carrying electrical current; energized.
  5. (in the construction "alive to") Aware of; sensitive to.
    We are alive to the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks.
    • 1925, Godfrey W. Mathews, The Chester Mystery Plays [] ., Liverpool: Edward Howell LTD, page 5:
      We may be sure that the Church would be alive to the dangers of allowing the plays to be performed outside the sacred edifice.
  6. Sprightly; lively; brisk.
    • 1836 March – 1837 October, Charles Dickens, “(please specify the chapter name)”, in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1837, →OCLC:
      Smouch, requesting Mr. Pickwick in a surly manner ‘to be as alive as he could, for it was a busy time,’ drew up a chair by the door and sat there, until he had finished dressing.
    • 2018 May 26, Daniel Taylor, “Liverpool go through after Mohamed Salah stops Manchester City fightback”, in The Guardian (London)[1]:
      Liverpool’s equaliser came within four minutes. James Milner swung the ball over from a corner on the right and Sadio Mané, Liverpool’s most dangerous player, was alive in the six-yard area.
  7. Susceptible, sensitive; easy to impress; having keen feelings, as opposed to apathy.
  8. (intensifier) Out of all living creatures.
    • 1702, Edward Hyde Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion:
      The Earl of Northumberland 'was the proudest man alive' and 'was in all his deportment a very great man.
    • 2000, Candye Kane (lyrics and music), “The Toughest Girl Alive”:
      I'm the toughest girl alive / I walked through the fire and I survived.
  9. (programming) Synonym of live

Usage notes[edit]

  • Alive always follows the noun which it qualifies; for example, "The bee is alive". Before a noun, the adjectives living or live may be used with a similar meaning.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


alive”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of alyve