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[lahyf-lahyn] /ˈlaɪfˌlaɪn/
a line, fired across a ship or boat, by means of which a hawser for a breeches buoy may be hauled aboard.
a line or rope for saving life, as one attached to a lifeboat.
any of various lines running above the decks, spars, etc., of a ship or boat to give sailors something to grasp when there is danger of falling or being washed away.
a wire safety rope supported by stanchions along the edge of the deck of a yacht.
the line by which a diver is lowered and raised.
any of several anchored lines used by swimmers for support.
a route or means of transportation or communication for receiving or delivering food, medicine, or assistance:
This road is the town's lifeline and must be kept open despite the snow.
assistance at a critical time.
Origin of lifeline
1690-1700; life + line1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lifeline
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Occasionally a lifeline was rigged along the well deck to the poop quarters, a by no means unnecessary precaution.

    Five Months on a German Raider Frederic George Trayes
  • I thought at least she would see my initials all over your lifeline.

    The Twelfth Hour Ada Leverson
  • She wakes with a tearing start from the gray dreams of death that fill her lifeline.

    The Big Time Fritz Reuter Leiber
  • Half my memories were doubled, half my lifeline crooked and twisted, three new moles upon my sword-hand.

    The Big Time Fritz Reuter Leiber
  • Ten months of siege followed as Grant methodically cut the Confederate 39 lifeline.

British Dictionary definitions for lifeline


a line thrown or fired aboard a vessel for hauling in a hawser for a breeches buoy
any rope or line attached to a vessel or trailed from it for the safety of passengers, crew, swimmers, etc
a line by which a deep-sea diver is raised or lowered
a vital line of access or communication
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lifeline

also life-line, 1700, "rope used somehow to save lives," from life (n.) + line (n.); figurative sense first attested 1860. Sense in palmistry from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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