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[ser-vahy-vuh l] /sərˈvaɪ vəl/
the act or fact of surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances.
a person or thing that survives or endures, especially an ancient custom, observance, belief, or the like.
Anthropology. (no longer in technical use) the persistence of a cultural trait, practice, or the like long after it has lost its original meaning or usefulness.
of, relating to, or for use in surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances:
survival techniques.
Origin of survival
1590-1600; survive + -al2
Related forms
nonsurvival, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for survival
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In him you may see a typical and beautiful example of the survival of the Fittest.

    'That Very Mab' May Kendall and Andrew Lang
  • What had once been a matter of survival became a road to acclaim.

    Millennium Everett B. Cole
  • On such individual and national virtues is founded the survival of the race and of the massive empire.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • They were regarded as a survival from the old church which was disapproved.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • It is found amongst uncivilized people, but is hardly to be regarded as a survival in higher civilization.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
British Dictionary definitions for survival


a person or thing that survives, such as a custom
  1. the act or fact of surviving or condition of having survived
  2. (as modifier): survival kit
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 survival

1590s, from survive + -al (2). Phrase survival of the fittest was used by Spencer in place of Darwin's natural selection.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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