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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.
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
  • The good news is that early detection and new treatments have improved survival rates.
  • For evolutionists, everything begins and ends with the question of survival.
  • Some of their survival strategies are nothing short of ingenious.
  • Mice that are color-matched to their surroundings have a survival advantage over mismatched mice in each of the two habitats.
  • For some people, that first whiff of the uncorrupted outdoors might trigger a set of survival instincts.
  • The entire trip from launch to splashdown was one big survival game and it's no difference from ours.
  • survival rates for brain tumors vary widely depending on the type of tumor and other factors, including age.
  • In fact, not being surprised is a survival strategy.
  • Half of its people depend on livestock for their survival.
  • Get ready for the unthinkable with reviews of the latest survival guides.
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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Encyclopedia Article for survival

in cultural anthropology, a cultural phenomenon that originates under one set of conditions and persists in a period when those conditions no longer obtain. The term was first employed by the British anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in his Primitive Culture (1871). Tylor believed that seemingly irrational customs and beliefs, such as peasant superstitions, were vestiges of earlier rational practices. He distinguished between continuing customs that maintained their function or meaning and those that had lost their utility and were further thought to be poorly integrated with the rest of culture. The latter he termed survivals.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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