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life +‎ -er



lifer (plural lifers)

  1. A prisoner sentenced to life in prison.
  2. A prisoner sentenced to transportation for life.
    • 1837-39, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
      They know what a clever lad he is; he'll be a lifer. They'll make the Artful nothing less than a lifer.
  3. A person with a singular career path, especially in the military.
    • 2002, Paul Newman, Nine From The Ninth, iUniverse (→ISBN), page 17
      LRRP planned to become “career” Army, i.e., a lifer, you kept that quiet. Basic LRRP theology said the Army sucked and that philosophy kept one from going crazy because, at the bottom, nothing about the war seemed to make sense anyway. The LRRP's considered a lifer a loser. Being a lifer implied one had no other options available. Every LRRP had his own stories about back home: about family, friends, lovers, opportunities, dreams and a future. These were mostly fantasy, but []
    • 2005, J. M. Coutts, As the Beacon Turns, Trafford Publishing (→ISBN), page 392
      In the early years of EMS, the term lifer was an entitlement pinned to anyone who had worked the road for ten years or longer with no real plans of seeking a replacement trade. It was a term that was generally delivered in a respectful and lighthearted teasing manner by someone who by all definitions could have easily been described as a lifer himself—with the exception of one drawback. So far, the crews didn't know anyone who had worked in the field for ten years, much less longer []
    • 2018, Adrian Dater, 100 Things Rockies Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:
      He was a baseball lifer, a seamhead through and through, who just absolutely liked nothing better than sitting down and talking baseball.
  4. (birdwatching) A bird species seen for the first time by a birder who is keeping a list of all the species he or she has ever seen.
    • 2013, Sue Taylor, Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia:
      I saw six species of honeyeaters new to me and went home with 16 lifers and some bad sandfly bites.



See also[edit]


Old English[edit]


  • IPA(key): /ˈli.fer/, [ˈli.ver]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Proto-Germanic *librō, Cognate with Old Frisian livere (West Frisian lever), Old Saxon levara, Dutch lever, Old High German lebara (German Leber), Old Norse lifr (Swedish lever).


lifer f

  1. liver (interior organ)
  • Middle English: liver, livere

Etymology 2[edit]


lifer f

  1. Alternative form of læfer (reed, rush)