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death adder
death angel
death bell
death benefit
death blow
death camas
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Death candle
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death chamber
death cup
Death damp

Death definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

DEATH, n. deth.
1. That state of a being, animal or vegetable, but more particularly of an animal, in which there is a total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions, when the organs have not only ceased to act, but have lost the susceptibility of renewed action. Thus the cessation of respiration and circulation in an animal may not be death, for during hybernation some animals become entirely torpid, and some animals and vegetables may be subjected to a fixed state by frost, but being capable of revived activity, they are not dead.
2. The state of the dead; as the gates of death. Job 38.
3. The manner of dying.
Thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Ezek 28.
Let me die the death of the righteous. Numbers 23.
4. The image of mortality represented by a skeleton; as a death's head.
5. Murder; as a man of death.
6. Cause of death.
O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. 2 Kings 4.
We say, he caught his death.
7. Destroyer or agent of death; as, he will be the death of his poor father.
8. In poetry, the means or instrument of death; as an arrow is called the feathered death; a ball, a leaden death.
Deaths invisible come winged with fire.
9. In theology, perpetual separation from God, and eternal torments; called the second death. Revelation 2.
10. Separation or alienation of the soul from God; a being under the dominion of sin, and destitute of grace or divine life; called spiritual death.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. 1 John 3. Luke I.
Civil death, is the separation of a man from civil society, or from the enjoyment of civil rights; as by banishment, abjuration of the realm, entering into a monastery, etc.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

1: the event of dying or departure from life; "her death came as a terrible shock"; "upon your decease the capital will pass to your grandchildren" [syn: death, decease, expiry] [ant: birth, nascence, nascency, nativity]
2: the permanent end of all life functions in an organism or part of an organism; "the animal died a painful death"
3: the absence of life or state of being dead; "he seemed more content in death than he had ever been in life"
4: the time when something ends; "it was the death of all his plans"; "a dying of old hopes" [syn: death, dying, demise] [ant: birth]
5: the time at which life ends; continuing until dead; "she stayed until his death"; "a struggle to the last" [syn: death, last]
6: the personification of death; "Death walked the streets of the plague-bound city"
7: a final state; "he came to a bad end"; "the so-called glorious experiment came to an inglorious end" [syn: end, destruction, death]
8: the act of killing; "he had two deaths on his conscience"

Merriam Webster's

noun Etymology: Middle English deeth, from Old English d?ath; akin to Old Norse dauthi death, deyja to die more at die Date: before 12th century 1. a. a permanent cessation of all vital functions ; the end of life compare brain death b. an instance of dying <a disease causing many deaths> 2. a. the cause or occasion of loss of life <drinking was the death of him> b. a cause of ruin <the slander that was death to my character Wilkie Collins> 3. capitalized the destroyer of life represented usually as a skeleton with a scythe 4. the state of being dead 5. a. the passing or destruction of something inanimate <the death of vaudeville> b. extinction 6. civil death 7. slaughter 8. Christian Science the lie of life in matter ; that which is unreal and untrue ; illusion

Oxford Reference Dictionary

n. 1 the final cessation of vital functions in an organism; the ending of life. 2 the event that terminates life. 3 a the fact or process of being killed or killing (stone to death; fight to the death). b the fact or state of being dead (eyes closed in death; their deaths caused rioting). 4 a the destruction or permanent cessation of something (was the death of our hopes). b colloq. something terrible or appalling. 5 (usu. Death) a personification of death, esp. as a destructive power, usu. represented by a skeleton. 6 a lack of religious faith or spiritual life. Phrases and idioms: as sure as death quite certain. at death's door close to death. be in at the death 1 be present when an animal is killed, esp. in hunting. 2 witness the (esp. sudden) ending of an enterprise etc. be the death of 1 cause the death of. 2 be very harmful to. catch one's death colloq. catch a serious chill etc. death adder any of various venomous snakes of the genus Acanthopis esp. A. antarcticus of Australia. death cap a poisonous toadstool, Amanita phalloides. death cell a prison cell for a person condemned to death. death certificate an official statement of the cause and date and place of a person's death. death duty Brit. hist. a tax levied on property after the owner's death. Usage: Replaced in 1975 by capital transfer tax and in 1986 by inheritance tax. death grant Brit. a State grant towards funeral expenses. death-knell 1 the tolling of a bell to mark a person's death. 2 an event that heralds the end or destruction of something. death-mask a cast taken of a dead person's face. death penalty punishment by being put to death. death rate the number of deaths per thousand of population per year. death-rattle a gurgling sound sometimes heard in a dying person's throat. death-roll 1 those killed in an accident, battle, etc. 2 a list of these. death row US a prison block or section for prisoners sentenced to death. death's head a human skull as an emblem of mortality. death's head moth a large dark hawk moth, Acherontia atropos, with skull-like markings on the back of the thorax. death squad an armed paramilitary group formed to kill political enemies etc. death tax US a tax on property payable on the owner's death. death-toll the number of people killed in an accident, battle, etc. death-trap colloq. a dangerous or unhealthy building, vehicle, etc. death-warrant 1 an order for the execution of a condemned person. 2 anything that causes the end of an established practice etc. death-watch (in full death-watch beetle) a small beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) which makes a sound like a watch ticking, once supposed to portend death, and whose larva bores in old wood. death-wish Psychol. a desire (usu. unconscious) for the death of oneself or another. do to death 1 kill. 2 overdo. fate worse than death colloq. a disastrous misfortune or experience. like death warmed up sl. very tired or ill. put to death kill or cause to be killed. to death to the utmost, extremely (bored to death; worked to death). Derivatives: deathless adj. deathlessness n. deathlike adj. Etymology: OE death f. Gmc: rel. to DIE(1)

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Death Death, n. [OE. deth, dea?, AS. de['a]?; akin to OS. d??, D. dood, G. tod, Icel. dau?i, Sw. & Dan. d["o]d, Goth. daupus; from a verb meaning to die. See Die, v. i., and cf. Dead.] 1. The cessation of all vital phenomena without capability of resuscitation, either in animals or plants. Note: Local death is going on at times and in all parts of the living body, in which individual cells and elements are being cast off and replaced by new; a process essential to life. General death is of two kinds; death of the body as a whole (somatic or systemic death), and death of the tissues. By the former is implied the absolute cessation of the functions of the brain, the circulatory and the respiratory organs; by the latter the entire disappearance of the vital actions of the ultimate structural constituents of the body. When death takes place, the body as a whole dies first, the death of the tissues sometimes not occurring until after a considerable interval. --Huxley. 2. Total privation or loss; extinction; cessation; as, the death of memory. The death of a language can not be exactly compared with the death of a plant. --J. Peile. 3. Manner of dying; act or state of passing from life. A death that I abhor. --Shak. Let me die the death of the righteous. --Num. xxiii. 10. 4. Cause of loss of life. Swiftly flies the feathered death. --Dryden. He caught his death the last county sessions. --Addison. 5. Personified: The destroyer of life, -- conventionally represented as a skeleton with a scythe. Death! great proprietor of all. --Young. And I looked, and behold a pale horse; and his name that at on him was Death. --Rev. vi. 8. 6. Danger of death. ``In deaths oft.'' --2 Cor. xi. 23. 7. Murder; murderous character. Not to suffer a man of death to live. --Bacon. 8. (Theol.) Loss of spiritual life. To be ??????? m????? is death. --Rom. viii. 6. 9. Anything so dreadful as to be like death. It was death to them to think of entertaining such doctrines. --Atterbury. And urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death. --Judg. xvi. 16. Note: Death is much used adjectively and as the first part of a compound, meaning, in general, of or pertaining to death, causing or presaging death; as, deathbed or death bed; deathblow or death blow, etc. Black death. See Black death, in the Vocabulary. Civil death, the separation of a man from civil society, or the debarring him from the enjoyment of civil rights, as by banishment, attainder, abjuration of the realm, entering a monastery, etc. --Blackstone. Death adder. (Zo["o]l.) (a) A kind of viper found in South Africa (Acanthophis tortor); -- so called from the virulence of its venom. (b) A venomous Australian snake of the family Elapid[ae], of several species, as the Hoplocephalus superbus and Acanthopis antarctica. Death bell, a bell that announces a death. The death bell thrice was heard to ring. --Mickle. Death candle, a light like that of a candle, viewed by the superstitious as presaging death. Death damp, a cold sweat at the coming on of death. Death fire, a kind of ignis fatuus supposed to forebode death. And round about in reel and rout, The death fires danced at night. --Coleridge. Death grapple, a grapple or struggle for life. Death in life, a condition but little removed from death; a living death. [Poetic] ``Lay lingering out a five years' death in life.'' --Tennyson. Death knell, a stroke or tolling of a bell, announcing a death. Death rate, the relation or ratio of the number of deaths to the population. At all ages the death rate is higher in towns than in rural districts. --Darwin. Death rattle, a rattling or gurgling in the throat of a dying person. Death's door, the boundary of life; the partition dividing life from death. Death stroke, a stroke causing death. Death throe, the spasm of death. Death token, the signal of approaching death. Death warrant. (a) (Law) An order from the proper authority for the execution of a criminal. (b) That which puts an end to expectation, hope, or joy. Death wound. (a) A fatal wound or injury. (b) (Naut.) The springing of a fatal leak. Spiritual death (Scripture), the corruption and perversion of the soul by sin, with the loss of the favor of God. The gates of death, the grave. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? --Job xxxviii. 17. The second death, condemnation to eternal separation from God. --Rev. ii. 11. To be the death of, to be the cause of death to; to make die. ``It was one who should be the death of both his parents.'' --Milton. Syn: Death, Decease, Demise, Departure, Release. Usage: Death applies to the termination of every form of existence, both animal and vegetable; the other words only to the human race. Decease is the term used in law for the removal of a human being out of life in the ordinary course of nature. Demise was formerly confined to decease of princes, but is now sometimes used of distinguished men in general; as, the demise of Mr. Pitt. Departure and release are peculiarly terms of Christian affection and hope. A violent death is not usually called a decease. Departure implies a friendly taking leave of life. Release implies a deliverance from a life of suffering or sorrow.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

(deaths) Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English. 1. Death is the permanent end of the life of a person or animal. 1.5 million people are in immediate danger of death from starvation. ...the thirtieth anniversary of her death... There had been a death in the family... He almost bled to death after a bullet severed an artery. ? birth, life N-VAR 2. A particular kind of death is a particular way of dying. They made sure that he died a horrible death... N-COUNT: with supp 3. The death of something is the permanent end of it. It meant the death of everything he had ever been or ever hoped to be. = end N-SING: usu the N of n 4. If you say that someone is at death's door, you mean they are very ill indeed and likely to die. (INFORMAL) He told his boss a tale about his mother being at death's door... PHRASE: v-link PHR 5. If you say that you will fight to the death for something, you are emphasizing that you will do anything to achieve or protect it, even if you suffer as a consequence. She'd have fought to the death for that child. PHRASE: V inflects [emphasis] 6. If you refer to a fight or contest as a fight to the death, you are emphasizing that it will not stop until the death or total victory of one of the opponents. He now faces a fight to the death to reach the quarter-finals. PHRASE [emphasis] 7. If you say that something is a matter of life and death, you are emphasizing that it is extremely important, often because someone may die or suffer great harm if people do not act immediately. Well, never mind, John, it's not a matter of life and death... PHRASE: n of PHR, PHR n [emphasis] 8. If someone is put to death, they are executed. (FORMAL) Those put to death by firing squad included three generals. PHRASE: V inflects 9. You use to death after a verb to indicate that a particular action or process results in someone's death. He was stabbed to death. ...relief missions to try to keep the country's population from starving to death... He almost bled to death after the bullet severed an artery. PHRASE: PHR after v 10. You use to death after an adjective or a verb to emphasize the action, state, or feeling mentioned. For example, if you are frightened to death or bored to death, you are extremely frightened or bored. He scares teams to death with his pace and power... PHRASE: adj PHR, PHR after v [emphasis]

Easton's Bible Dictionary

may be simply defined as the termination of life. It is represented under a variety of aspects in Scripture: (1.) "The dust shall return to the earth as it was" (Eccl. 12:7).

(2.) "Thou takest away their breath, they die" (Ps. 104:29).

(3.) It is the dissolution of "our earthly house of this tabernacle" (2 Cor. 5:1); the "putting off this tabernacle" (2 Pet. 1:13, 14).

(4.) Being "unclothed" (2 Cor. 5:3, 4).

(5.) "Falling on sleep" (Ps. 76:5; Jer. 51:39; Acts 13:36; 2 Pet. 3:9.

(6.) "I go whence I shall not return" (Job 10:21); "Make me to know mine end" (Ps. 39:4); "to depart" (Phil. 1:23).

The grave is represented as "the gates of death" (Job 38:17; Ps. 9:13; 107:18). The gloomy silence of the grave is spoken of under the figure of the "shadow of death" (Jer. 2:6).

Death is the effect of sin (Heb. 2:14), and not a "debt of nature." It is but once (9:27), universal (Gen. 3:19), necessary (Luke 2:28-30). Jesus has by his own death taken away its sting for all his followers (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

There is a spiritual death in trespasses and sins, i.e., the death of the soul under the power of sin (Rom. 8:6; Eph. 2:1, 3; Col. 2:13).

The "second death" (Rev. 2:11) is the everlasting perdition of the wicked (Rev. 21:8), and "second" in respect to natural or temporal death.

THE DEATH OF CHRIST is the procuring cause incidentally of all the blessings men enjoy on earth. But specially it is the procuring cause of the actual salvation of all his people, together with all the means that lead thereto. It does not make their salvation merely possible, but certain (Matt. 18:11; Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 2:16; Rom. 8:32-35).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

(maweth; thanatos):


The word "Death" is used in the sense of

(1) the process of dying (Ge 21:16);

(2) the period of decease (Ge 27:7);

(3) as a possible synonym for poison (2Ki 4:40);

(4) as descriptive of person in danger of perishing (Jud 15:18; "in deaths oft" 2Co 11:23). In this sense the shadow of death is a familiar expression in Job, the Psalms and the Prophets;

(5) death is personified in 1Co 15:55 and Re 20:14. Deliverance from this catastrophe is called the "issues from death" (Ps 68:20 the King James Version; translated "escape" in the Revised Version (British and American)). Judicial execution, "putting to death," is mentioned 39 times in the Levitical Law.

Figuratively: Death is the loss of spiritual life as in Ro 8:6; and the final state of the unregenerate is called the "second death" in Re 20:14.

Alex. Macalister


1. Conception of Sin and Death:

According to Ge 2:17, God gave to man, created in His own image, the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and added thereto the warning, "in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Though not exclusively, reference is certainly made here in the first place to bodily death. Yet because death by no means came upon Adam and Eve on the day of their transgression, but took place hundreds of years later, the expression, "in the day that," must be conceived in a wider sense, or the delay of death must be attributed to the entering-in of mercy (Ge 3:15).

However this may be, Ge 2:17 places a close connection between man's death and his transgression of God's commandment, thereby attaching to death a religious and ethical significance, and on the other hand makes the life of man dependent on his obedience to God. This religious-ethical nature of life and death is not only decidedly and clearly expressed in Ge 2, but it is the fundamental thought of the whole of Scripture and forms an essential element in the revelations of salvation. The theologians of early and more recent times, who have denied the spiritual significance of death and have separated the connection between ethical and physical life, usually endeavor to trace back their opinions to Scripture; and those passages which undoubtedly see in death a punishment for sin (Ge 2:17; Joh 8:44; Ro 5:12; 6:23; 1Co 15:21), they take as individual opinions, which form no part of the organism of revelation. But this endeavor shuts out the organic character of the revelation of salvation. It is true that death in Holy Scripture is often measured by the weakness and frailty of human nature (Ge 3:19; Job 14:1,12; Ps 39:5,6; 90:5; 103:14,15; Ec 3:20, etc.).

Death is seldom connected with the transgression of the first man either in the Old Testament or the New Testament, or mentioned as a specified punishment for sin (Joh 8:44; Ro 5:12; 6:23; 1Co 15:21; Jas 1:15); for the most part it is portrayed as something natural (Ge 5:5; 9:29; 15:15; 25:8, etc.), a long life being presented as a blessing in contrast to death in the midst of days as a disaster and a judgment (Ps 102:23 f; Isa 65:20). But all this is not contrary to the idea that death is a consequence of, and a punishment for, sin. Daily, everyone who agrees with Scripture that death is held out as a punishment for sin, speaks in the same way. Death, though come into the world through sin, is nevertheless at the same time a consequence of man's physical and frail existence now; it could therefore be threatened as a punishment to man, because he was taken out of the ground and was made a living soul, of the earth earthy (Ge 2:7; 1Co 15:45,47). If he had remained obedient, he would not have returned to dust (Ge 3:19), but have pressed forward on the path of spiritual development (1Co 15:46,51); his return to dust was possible simply because he was made from dust (see ADAM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT). Thus, although death is in this way a consequence of sin, yet a long life is felt to be a blessing and death a disaster and a judgment, above all when man is taken away in the bloom of his youth or the strength of his years. There is nothing strange, therefore, in the manner in which Scripture speaks about death; we all express ourselves daily in the same way, though we at the same time consider it as the wages of sin. Beneath the ordinary, everyday expressions about death lies the deep consciousness that it is unnatural and contrary to our innermost being.

2. The Meaning of Death:

This is decidedly expressed in Scripture much more so even than among ourselves. For we are influenced always more or less by the Greek, Platonic idea, that the body dies, yet the soul is immortal. Such an idea is utterly contrary to the Israelite consciousness, and is nowhere found in the Old Testament. The whole man dies, when in death the spirit (Ps 146:4; Ec 12:7), or soul (Ge 35:18; 2Sa 1:9; 1Ki 17:21; Jon 4:3), goes out of a man. Not only his body, but his soul also returns to a state of death and belongs to the nether-world; therefore the Old Testament can speak of a death of one's soul (Ge 37:21 (Hebrew); Nu 23:10 m; De 22:21; Jud 16:30; Job 36:14; Ps 78:50), and of defilement by coming in contact with a dead body (Le 19:28; 21:11; 22:4; Nu 5:2; 6:6; 9:6; 19:10 ff; De 14:1; Hag 2:13). This death of man is not annihilation, however, but a deprivation of all that makes for life on earth. The Sheol (she'ol) is in contrast with the land of the living in every respect (Job 28:13; Pr 15:24; Eze 26:20; 32:23); it is an abode of darkness and the shadow of death (Job 10:21,22; Ps 88:12; 143:3), a place of destruction, yea destruction itself (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps 88:11; Pr 27:20), without any order (Job 10:22), a land of rest, of silence, of oblivion (Job 3:13,17,18; Ps 94:17; 115:17), where God and man are no longer to be seen (Isa 38:11), God no longer praised or thanked (Ps 6:5; 115:17), His perfections no more acknowledged (Ps 88:10-13; Isa 38:18,19), His wonders not contemplated (Ps 88:12), where the dead are unconscious, do no more work, take no account of anything, possess no knowledge nor wisdom, neither have any more a portion in anything that is done under the sun (Ec 9:5,6,10). The dead ("the Shades" the Revised Version, margin; compare article DECEASE) are asleep (Job 26:5; Pr 2:18; 9:18; 21:6; Ps 88:11; Isa 14:9), weakened (Isa 14:10) and without strength (Ps 88:4).

3. Light in the Darkness:

The dread of death was felt much more deeply therefore by the Israelites than by ourselves. Death to them was separation from all that they loved, from God, from His service, from His law, from His people, from His land, from all the rich companionship in which they lived. But now in this darkness appears the light of the revelation of salvation from on high. The God of Israel is the living God and the fountain of all life (De 5:26; Jos 3:10; Ps 36:9). He is the Creator of heaven and earth, whose power knows no bounds and whose dominion extends over life and death (De 32:39; 1Sa 2:6; Ps 90:3). He gave life to man (Ge 1:26; 2:7), and creates and sustains every man still (Job 32:8; 33:4; 34:14; Ps 104:29; Ec 12:7). He connects life with the keeping of His law and appoints death for the transgression of it (Ge 2:17; Le 18:5; De 30:20; 32:47). He lives in heaven, but is present also by His spirit in Sheol (Ps 139:7,8). Sheol and Abaddon are open to Him even as the hearts of the children of men (Job 26:6; 38:17; Pr 15:11). He kills and makes alive, brings down into Sheol and raises from thence again (De 32:39; 1Sa 2:6; 2Ki 5:7). He lengthens life for those who keep His commandments (Ex 20:12; Job 5:26), gives escape from death, can deliver when death menaces (Ps 68:20; Isa 38:5; Jer 15:20; Da 3:26), can take Enoch and Elijah to Himself without dying (Ge 5:24; 2Ki 2:11), can restore the dead to life (1Ki 17:22; 2Ki 4:34; 13:21). He can even bring death wholly to nothing and completely triumph over its power by rising from the dead (Job 14:13-15; 19:25-27; Ho 6:2; 13:14; Isa 25:8; 26:19; Eze 37:11,12; Da 12:2).

4. Spiritual Significance:

This revelation by degrees rejects the old contrast between life on earth and the disconsolate existence after death, in the dark place of Sheol, and puts another in its place. The physical contrast between life and death gradually makes way for the moral and spiritual difference between a life spent in the fear of the Lord, and a life in the service of sin. The man who serves God is alive (Ge 2:17); life is involved in the keeping of His commandments (Le 18:5; De 30:20); His word is life (De 8:3; 32:47). Life is still for the most part understood to mean length of days (Pr 2:18; 3:16; 10:30; Isa 65:20). Nevertheless it is remarkable that Pr often mentions death and Sheol in connection with the godless (Pr 2:18; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18), and on the other hand only speaks of life in connection with the righteous. Wisdom, righteousness, the fear of the Lord is the way of life (Pr 8:35,36; 11:19; 12:28; 13:14; 14:27; 19:23). The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death (Pr 14:32). Blessed is he who has the Lord for his God (De 33:29; Ps 1:1,2; 2:12; 32:1,2; 33:12; 34:9, etc.); he is comforted in the greatest adversity (Ps 73:25-28; Hab 3:17-19), and sees a light arise for him behind physical death (Ge 49:18; Job 14:13-15; 16:16-21; 19:25-27; Ps 73:23-26). The godless on the contrary, although enjoying for a time much prosperity, perish and come to an end (Ps 1:4-6; 73:18-20; Isa 48:22; Mal 4:3, etc. ).

The righteous of the Old Testament truly are continually occupied with the problem that the lot of man on earth often corresponds so little to his spiritual worth, but he strengthens himself with the conviction that for the righteous it will be well, and for the wicked, ill (Ec 8:12,13; Isa 3:10,11). If they do not realize it in the present, they look forward to the future and hope for the day in which God's justice will extend salvation to the righteous, and His anger will be visited on the wicked in judgment. So in the Old Testament the revelation of the new covenant is prepared wherein Christ by His appearance hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Ti 1:10). See ABOLISH. This everlasting life is already here on earth presented to man by faith, and it is his portion also in the hour of death (Joh 3:36; 11:25,26). On the other hand, he who lives in sin and is disobedient to the Son of God, is in his living dead (Mt 8:22; Lu 15:32; Joh 3:36; 8:24; Eph 2:1; Col 2:13); he shall never see life, but shall pass by bodily death into the second death (Re 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8).

5. Death in Non-Christian Religions and in Science:

This view of Scripture upon death goes much deeper than that which is found in other religions, but it nevertheless receives support from the unanimous witness of humanity with regard to its unnaturalness and dread. The so-called nature-peoples even feel that death is much more of an enigma than life; Tiele (Inleiding tot de goddienst- artenschap, II (1900), 202, referring to Andrew Lang, Modern Mythology, chapter xiii) says rightly, that all peoples have the conviction that man by nature is immortal, that immortality wants no proof, but that death is a mystery and must be explained. Touching complaints arise in the hearts of all men on the frailty and vanity of life, and the whole of mankind fears death as a mysterious power. Man finds comfort in death only when he hopes it will be an end to a still more miserable life. Seneca may be taken as interpreter of some philosophers when he says: Stultitia est timore morris mori ("It is stupid to die through the fear of death") and some may be able, like a Socrates or a Cato, to face death calmly and courageously; what have these few to say to the millions, who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb 2:15)? Such a mystery has death remained up to the present day. It may be said with Kassowitz, Verworm and others that the "cell" is the beginning, and the old, gray man is the natural end of an uninterrupted life-development, or with Metschnikoff, that science will one day so lengthen life that it will fade away like a rose at last and death lose all its dread; death still is no less a riddle, and one which swallows up all the strength of life. When one considers, besides, that a number of creatures, plants, trees, animals, reach a much higher age than man; that the larger half of mankind dies before or shortly after birth; that another large percentage dies in the bloom of youth or in the prime of life; that the law of the survival of the fittest is true only when the fact of the survival is taken as a proof of their fitness; that the graybeards, who, spent and decrepit, go down to the grave, form a very small number; then the enigma of death increases more and more in mysteriousness.

The endeavors to bring death into connection with certain activities of the organism and to explain it by increasing weight, by growth or by fertility, have all led to shipwreck. When Weismann took refuge in the immortality of the "einzellige Protozoen," he raised a hypothesis which not only found many opponents, but which also left mortality of the "Korperplasma" an insoluble mystery (Beth, "Ueber Ursache und Zweck des Todes, Glauben und Wissen" (1909), 285-304, 335-48). Thus, science certainly does not compel us to review Scripture on this point, but rather furnishes a strong proof of the mysterious majesty of death. When Pelagius, Socinus, Schleiermacher, Ritschl and a number of other theologians and philosophers separate death from its connection with sin, they are not compelled to do so by science, but are led by a defective insight into the relation between ethos and phusis. Misery and death are not absolutely always consequences and punishment of a great personal transgression (Lu 13:2; Joh 9:3); but that they are connected with sin, we learn from the experience of every day. Who can number the victims of mammonism, alcoholism and licentiousness? Even spiritual sins exercise their influence on corporal life; envy is a rottenness of the bones (Pr 14:30). This connection is taught us in a great measure by Scripture, when it placed the not yet fallen man in a Paradise, where death had not yet entered, and eternal life was not yet possessed and enjoyed; when it sends fallen man, who, however, is destined for redemption, into a world full of misery and death; and at last assigns to the wholly renewed man a new heaven and a new earth, where death, sorrow, crying or pain shall no longer exist (Re 21:4). Finally, Scripture is not the book of death, but of life, of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It tells us, in oft-repeated and unmistakable terms, of the dreaded reality of death, but it proclaims to us still more loudly the wonderful power of the life which is in Christ Jesus. See also DECEASE.

Herman Bavinck

Soule's Dictionary of English Synonyms

n. Decease, demise, dying, dissolution, departure, exit, end of life, King of terrors, debt of nature.

Moby Thesaurus

Azrael, Black Death, Death, Grim Reaper, Pale Death, Reaper, Z, angel of death, annihilation, apodosis, bane, caducity, casualty, catastrophe, ceasing, cessation, changeableness, coda, conclusion, consummation, corruptibility, crack of doom, crossbones, crossing the bar, culmination, curtain, curtains, death knell, deathblow, decease, demise, denouement, destination, destiny, destruction, dissolution, doom, downfall, dying, effect, end, end point, ending, envoi, ephemerality, ephemeralness, epilogue, eradication, eschatology, evanescence, expiration, expiry, extermination, extinction, extirpation, fatal, fate, final solution, final twitch, final words, finale, finality, finis, finish, finitude, fleetingness, fugacity, goal, grave, grim reaper, impermanence, impermanency, instability, izzard, last, last breath, last gasp, last things, last trumpet, last words, latter end, liquidation, memento mori, momentariness, mortality, mutability, obliteration, omega, pale horse, pale rider, passing, payoff, period, perishability, peroration, quietus, resolution, resting place, ruin, sickle of Death, silence, skull, skull and crossbones, sleep, stoppage, stopping place, swan song, term, terminal, termination, terminus, that fell sergeant, that grim ferryman, transience, transiency, transientness, transitoriness, undoing, volatility, white cross, windup


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