What is the definition of “Life”?

What do you consider to be “life”?

Everybody seems to have their own opinion of when life starts, and are generally accepting of the same definition of when life ends, but that’s not really the question that Web Watch is asking here.

Regardless of when you believe life begins, there’s still the fundamental question remaining of what “life” actually is for you.

We can pretty much all agree that inanimate objects, such as an iPhone – even with Siri – do not represent “life” at all.

So what is life?



That’s the question that ED TRIFONOV tried to determine the answer to in a recent issue of the JOURNAL OF BIOMOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS entitled “VOCABULARY of DEFINITIONS of LIFE SUGGESTS a DEFINITION.

Ed took a list of 123 different definitions of the word “LIFE” and consoliated them into distinct word lists sorted by frequency.

Looking at the output from these lists, Ed was able to sum up an overall definition of life into these six words:

Life is self-reproduction with variations.

What Web Watch loves about this definition is not the definition of life that’s presented, but the analysis that references how important it is to be like HEMINGWAY, to “boil it down; know what to leave out; tell a story in six words.”

So even if you disagree with what a definition of life consists of, if there’s one thing that you DO take away from this exercise in language it should be Hemingway’s advice to be as consise as possible while still getting your point across.

Words to live by.