AskDefine | Define dying

Dictionary Definition

die

Noun

1 small cubes with 1 to 6 spots on the faces; used to generate random numbers [syn: dice]
2 a device used for shaping metal
3 a cutting tool that is fitted into a diestock and used for cutting male (external) screw threads on screws or bolts or pipes or rods

Verb

1 pass from physical life and lose all all bodily attributes and functions necessary to sustain life; "She died from cancer"; "They children perished in the fire"; "The patient went peacefully" [syn: decease, perish, go, exit, pass away, expire, pass] [ant: be born]
2 suffer or face the pain of death; "Martyrs may die every day for their faith"
3 be brought to or as if to the point of death by an intense emotion such as embarrassment, amusement, or shame; "I was dying with embarrassment when my little lie was discovered"; "We almost died laughing during the show"
4 stop operating or functioning; "The engine finally went"; "The car died on the road"; "The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town"; "The coffee maker broke"; "The engine failed on the way to town"; "her eyesight went after the accident" [syn: fail, go bad, give way, give out, conk out, go, break, break down]
5 feel indifferent towards; "She died to worldly things and eventually entered a monastery"
6 languish as with love or desire; "She dying for a cigarette"; "I was dying to leave"
7 cut or shape with a die; "Die out leather for belts" [syn: die out]
8 to be on base at the end of an inning, of a player
9 lose sparkle or bouquet; "wine and beer can pall" [syn: pall, become flat]
10 disappear or come to an end; "Their anger died"; "My secret will die with me!"
11 suffer spiritual death; be damned (in the religious sense); "Whosoever..believes in me shall never die" [also: dying]dying adj
1 in or associated with the process of passing from life or ceasing to be; "a dying man"; "his dying wish"; "a dying fire"; "a dying civilization" [syn: dying(a)] [ant: aborning]
2 eagerly desirous; "anxious to see the new show at the museum"; "dying to hear who won" [syn: anxious(p), dying(p)] n : the time when something ends; "it was the death of all his plans"; "a dying of old hopes" [syn: death, demise] [ant: birth]dying See die

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

/'dʌɪɪŋ/

Verb

dying
  1. present participle of die

Adjective

  1. About to die.
    The dying dog was put out of his misery with a single shot.
  2. Declining, or drawing to an end.
    In the dying moments of daylight I glimpsed a sail on the horizon.
  3. Pertaining to the moments before death
    His dying words were of his mother.
  4. Failing to evoke laughter from the audience.

Translations

about to die
declining, or drawing to an end
pertaining to the moments before death
failing to evoke laughter from the audience

Noun

  1. In the context of "plurale tantum": Those who are currently expiring, moribund.
    The battlefield was littered with the dead and dying.
  2. The process of approaching death; or, less precisely, death itself.

Translations

those who are currently expiring
process of approaching death

Extensive Definition

Death is end of the life of an organism e.g. a human. Death may refer to the end of life as either an event or condition (also known as passing away). Many factors can cause or contribute to an organism's death, including predation, disease, habitat destruction, senescence, malnutrition and accidents or physical injury. The principal causes of human death in developed countries are diseases related to aging.
Some organisms have hard parts such as shells or bones which may fossilize before decomposition can occur. Fossils are the mineralized or otherwise preserved remains or traces (such as footprints) of animals, plants, and other organisms. Fossils vary in size from microscopic, such as single cells, to gigantic, such as dinosaurs. A fossil normally preserves only a small portion of the deceased organism, usually that portion that was partially mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Preservation of soft tissues is extremely rare in the fossil record.

Competition, natural selection and extinction

Death is an important part of the process of natural selection. Organisms that are less adapted to their current environment than others are more likely to die having produced fewer offspring, reducing their contribution to the gene pool of succeeding generations. Weaker genes are thus eventually bred out of a population, leading to processes such as speciation and extinction. It should be noted however that reproduction plays an equally important role in determining survival, for example an organism that dies young but leaves many offspring will have a much greater Darwinian fitness than a long-lived organism which leaves only one.

Extinction

Extinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa, reducing biodiversity. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species (although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point). Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly "reappears" (typically in the fossil record) after a period of apparent absence.
Through evolution, new species arise through the process of speciation — where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche — and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance, although some species, called living fossils, survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Only one in a thousand species that have existed remain today.
After death an organism's remains become part of the biogeochemical cycle. Animals may be consumed by a predator or scavenger. Organic material may then be further decomposed by detritivores, organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain. Examples include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles. Microorganisms also play a vital role, raising the temperature of the decomposing material as they break it down into simpler molecules. Not all material need be decomposed fully however; for example coal is a fossil fuel formed in swamp ecosystems.

Evolution of aging

Enquiry into the evolution of aging aims to explain why almost all living things weaken and die with age (a notable exception being hydra, which may be biologically immortal). The evolutionary origin of senescence remains one of the fundamental puzzles of biology.

In medicine

Definition

Historically, attempts to define the exact moment of death have been problematic. Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat (cardiac arrest) and of breathing, but the development of CPR and prompt defibrillation have rendered that definition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can sometimes be restarted. This is now called "clinical death". Events which were causally linked to death in the past no longer kill in all circumstances; without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and artificial pacemakers.
Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to "brain death" or "biological death": People are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases (cf. persistent vegetative state). It is presumed that a stoppage of electrical activity indicates the end of consciousness. However, suspension of consciousness must be permanent, and not transient, as occurs during sleep, and especially a coma. In the case of sleep, EEGs can easily tell the difference. Identifying the moment of death is important in cases of transplantation, as an organ for transplant must be harvested as quickly as possible after the death of the body.
The possession of brain activities, or ability to resume brain activity, is a necessary condition to legal personhood in the United States. "It appears that once brain death has been determined … no criminal or civil liability will result from disconnecting the life-support devices." (Dority v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County, 193 Cal.Rptr. 288, 291 (1983))
Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity there should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. However, at present, in most places the more conservative definition of death — irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex — has been adopted (for example the Uniform Determination Of Death Act in the United States). In 2005, the case of Terri Schiavo brought the question of brain death and artificial sustenance to the front of American politics.
Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Because of this, hospitals have protocols for determining brain death involving EEGs at widely separated intervals under defined conditions.

Misdiagnosed death

There are many anecdotal references to people being declared dead by physicians and then 'coming back to life', sometimes days later in their own coffin, or when embalming procedures are just about to begin. Owing to significant scientific advancements in the Victorian era, some people in Britain became obsessively worried about living after being declared dead.
A first responder is not authorized to pronounce a patient dead. Some EMT training manuals specifically state that a person is not to be assumed dead unless there are clear and obvious indications that death has occurred. These indications include mortal decapitation, rigor mortis (rigidity of the body), livor mortis (blood pooling in the part of the body at lowest elevation), decomposition, incineration, or other bodily damage that is clearly inconsistent with life. If there is any possibility of life and in the absence of a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, emergency workers are instructed to begin resuscitation and not end it until a patient has been brought to a hospital to be examined by a physician. This frequently leads to situation of a patient being pronounced dead on arrival (DOA). However, some states allow paramedics to pronounce death. This is usually based on specific criteria. Aside from the above mentioned, conditions include advanced measures including CPR, intubation, IV access, and administering medicines without regaining a pulse for at least 20 minutes.
In cases of electric shock, CPR for an hour or longer can allow stunned nerves to recover, allowing an apparently dead person to survive. People found unconscious under icy water may survive if their faces are kept continuously cold until they arrive at an emergency room. In science fiction scenarios where such technology is readily available, real death is distinguished from reversible death.

The Legalities of Death

See also: Legal death
Legally a person is dead if a Statement of Death, which is similar to a Birth Certificate, is approved by a licensed medical practitioner.

Causes of human death

Death can be caused by disease, suffocation/asphyxiation or prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain, or physical trauma as a result of an accident ("unintentional circumstance"), homicide ("intentional act by someone else"), or suicide ("intentional act against one's self"). The leading cause of death in developing countries is infectious disease. The leading causes of death in developed countries are atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke), cancer, and other diseases related to obesity and aging. These conditions cause loss of homeostasis, leading to cardiac arrest, causing loss of oxygen and nutrient supply, causing irreversible deterioration of the brain and other tissues. With improved medical capability, dying has become a condition to be managed. Home deaths, once normal, are now rare in the developed world.
In developing nations, inferior sanitary conditions and lack of access to modern medical technology makes death from infectious diseases more common than in developed countries. One such disease is tuberculosis, a bacterial disease which killed 1.7 million people in 2004. Malaria causes about 400–900 million cases of fever and approximately one to three million deaths annually. AIDS death toll in Africa may reach 90-100 million by 2025.
According to Jean Ziegler, who was the United Nations Special reporter on the Right to Food from 2000 to March 2008; mortality due to malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality rate in 2006. Ziegler says worldwide approximately 62 millions people died from all causes and of those deaths more than 36 millions died of hunger or diseases due to deficiencies in micronutrients."
Tobacco smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and could kill 1 billion people around the world in the 21st century, the WHO Report warned.
Many leading developed world causes of death can be postponed by diet and physical activity, but the accelerating incidence of disease with age still imposes limits on human longevity. The evolutionary cause of aging is, at best, only just beginning to be understood. It has been suggested that direct intervention in the aging process may now be the most effective intervention against major causes of death.

Signs

The signs of death, strongly indicating that a person is no longer alive, are:
  • Pallor mortis, paleness which happens almost instantaneously (in the 15–120 minutes after the death)
  • Algor mortis, the reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
  • Rigor mortis, the limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
  • Livor mortis, a settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
  • Decomposition, the reduction into simpler forms of matter

Autopsy

An autopsy, also known as a postmortem examination or an obduction, is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a human corpse to determine the cause and manner of a person's death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present. It is usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist.
Autopsies are either performed for legal or medical purposes. A forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter, while a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes. Autopsies can be further classified into cases where external examination suffices, and those where the body is dissected and an internal examination is conducted. Permission from next of kin may be required for internal autopsy in some cases. Once an internal autopsy is complete the body is reconstituted by sewing it back together. Autopsy is important in a medical environment and may shed light on mistakes and help improve practices.
A necropsy is a postmortem examination performed on a non-human animal, such as a pet.

Life extension

Life extension refers to an increase in maximum or average lifespan, especially in humans, by slowing down or reversing the processes of aging. Average lifespan is determined by vulnerability to accidents and age-related afflictions such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. Extension of average lifespan can be achieved by good diet, exercise and avoidance of hazards such as smoking and excessive eating of sugar-containing foods. Maximum lifespan is determined by the rate of aging for a species inherent in its genes. Currently, the only widely recognized method of extending maximum lifespan is calorie restriction. Theoretically, extension of maximum lifespan can be achieved by reducing the rate of aging damage, by periodic replacement of damaged tissues, or by molecular repair or rejuvenation of deteriorated cells and tissues.
Researchers of life extension are a subclass of biogerontologists known as "biomedical gerontologists". They try to understand the nature of aging and they develop treatments to reverse aging processes or to at least slow them down, for the improvement of health and the maintenance of youthful vigor at every stage of life. Those who take advantage of life extension findings and seek to apply them upon themselves are called "life extensionists" or "longevists". The primary life extension strategy currently is to apply available anti-aging methods in the hope of living long enough to benefit from a complete cure to aging once it is developed, which given the rapidly advancing state of biogenetic and general medical technology, could conceivably occur within the lifetimes of people living today.
Many biomedical gerontologists and life extensionists believe that future breakthroughs in tissue rejuvenation with stem cells, organs replacement (with artificial organs or xenotransplantations) and molecular repair will eliminate all aging and disease as well as allow for complete rejuvenation to a youthful condition. Whether such breakthroughs can occur within the next few decades is impossible to predict. Some life extensionists arrange to be cryonically preserved upon legal death so that they can await the time when future medicine can eliminate disease, rejuvenate them to a lasting youthful condition and repair damage caused by the cryonics process.

Death in culture

Death is the center of many traditions and organizations, and is a feature of every culture around the world. Much of this revolves around the care of the dead, as well as the afterlife and the disposal of bodies upon the onset of death. The disposal of human corpses does, in general, begin with the last offices before significant time has passed, and ritualistic ceremonies often occur, most commonly interment or cremation. This is not a unified practice, however, as in Tibet for instance the body is given a sky burial and left on a mountain top. Mummification or embalming is also prevalent in some cultures, to retard the rate of decay.
Such rituals are accompanied by grief and mourning in almost all cases, and this is not limited to human loss, but extends to the loss of an animal. Legal aspects of death are also part of many cultures, particularly the settlement of the deceased estate and the issues of inheritance and in some countries, inheritance taxation.
Capital punishment is also a divisive aspect of death in culture. In most places that practice capital punishment today, the death penalty is reserved as punishment for premeditated murder, espionage, treason, or as part of military justice. In some countries, sexual crimes, such as adultery and sodomy, carry the death penalty, as do religious crimes such as apostasy, the formal renunciation of one's religion. In many retentionist countries, drug trafficking is also a capital offense. In China human trafficking and serious cases of corruption are also punished by the death penalty. In militaries around the world courts-martial have imposed death sentences for offenses such as cowardice, desertion, insubordination, and mutiny.
Death in warfare and in suicide attack also have cultural links, and the ideas of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, mutiny punishable by death, grieving relatives of dead soldiers and death notification are embedded in many cultures. Recently in the western world, with the increase in terrorism following the September 11 attacks, but also further back in time with suicide bombers and terrorism in Northern Ireland, kamikaze missions in World War II and suicide missions in a host of other conflicts in history, death for a cause by way of suicide attack, and martyrdom have had significant cultural impacts.
Suicide in general, and particularly euthanasia are also points of cultural debate. Both acts are understood very differently in contrasting cultures. In Japan, for example, ending a life with honor by hari kari is considered a desirable death, whereas in many western cultures the idea of euthanasia is looked upon with mixed feelings. Death is also personified in many cultures, with such creations as the Grim Reaper, Azrael, Father Time. Such cultural ideas are part of a global fascination with death.

See also

References

Additional references

  • Vass AA (2001) Microbiology Today 28: 190-192 at: http://www.sgm.ac.uk/pubs/micro_today/pdf/110108.pdf
  • Piepenbrink H (1985) J Archaeolog Sci 13: 417-430
  • Piepenbrink H (1989) Applied Geochem 4: 273-280
  • Child AM (1995) J Archaeolog Sci 22: 165-174
  • Hedges REM & Millard AR (1995) J Archaeolog Sci 22: 155-164
  • Maloney, George, A., S.J. (1980) The Everlasting Now: Meditations on the mysteries of life and death as they touch us in our daily lives. ISBN 0877932018

External links

dying in Arabic: موت
dying in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܡܘܬܐ
dying in Guarani: Mano
dying in Bosnian: Smrt
dying in Breton: Marv
dying in Bulgarian: Смърт
dying in Catalan: Mort
dying in Cebuano: Morte
dying in Czech: Smrt
dying in Welsh: Marwolaeth
dying in Danish: Død
dying in German: Tod
dying in Estonian: Surm
dying in Spanish: Muerte
dying in Esperanto: Morto
dying in Persian: مرگ
dying in French: Mort
dying in Western Frisian: Dea
dying in Galician: Morte
dying in Gujarati: મરણ
dying in Classical Chinese: 亡
dying in Korean: 죽음
dying in Hindi: मृत्यु
dying in Croatian: Smrt
dying in Ido: Morto
dying in Indonesian: Kematian
dying in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Morte
dying in Icelandic: Dauði
dying in Italian: Morte
dying in Hebrew: מוות
dying in Georgian: სიკვდილი
dying in Latin: Mors
dying in Latvian: Nāve
dying in Lithuanian: Mirtis
dying in Hungarian: Halál
dying in Malayalam: മരണം
dying in Maltese: Mewt
dying in Marathi: मृत्यू
dying in Malay (macrolanguage): Ajal
dying in Dutch: Dood
dying in Japanese: 死
dying in Norwegian: Død
dying in Norwegian Nynorsk: Død
dying in Polish: Śmierć
dying in Portuguese: Morte
dying in Romanian: Moarte
dying in Quechua: Wañuy
dying in Russian: Смерть
dying in Albanian: Vdekja
dying in Sicilian: Morti
dying in Simple English: Death
dying in Slovak: Smrť
dying in Slovenian: Smrt
dying in Serbian: Смрт
dying in Serbo-Croatian: Smrt
dying in Sundanese: Paéh
dying in Finnish: Kuolema
dying in Swedish: Döden
dying in Tagalog: Kamatayan
dying in Thai: ความตาย
dying in Vietnamese: Chết
dying in Turkish: Ölüm
dying in Ukrainian: Смерть
dying in Urdu: موت
dying in Yiddish: טויט
dying in Contenese: 死
dying in Samogitian: Smertis
dying in Chinese: 死亡

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abatement, abridgment, alleviation, annihilation, attenuation, bad, bane, biological death, brittle, burning out, burnout, capricious, cessation of life, changeable, choking, clinical death, comedown, contraction, controlling, corruptible, crossing the bar, curtains, dampening, damping, death, death knell, debasement, debt of nature, decadence, decadency, decease, deciduous, declension, declination, decline, declining, decrease, decrement, decrescence, deduction, deflation, deformation, degeneracy, degenerateness, degeneration, degradation, demise, demotion, departure, depravation, depravedness, depreciation, depression, derogation, descent, despaired of, deterioration, devolution, diminishing, diminishment, diminution, dissolution, done for, doom, dousing, downtrend, downturn, downward mobility, downward trend, drop, dwindling, dying off, ebb, ebb of life, ebbing, effeteness, end, end of life, ending, ephemeral, eternal rest, evanescent, exit, expiration, expiring, extenuation, extinction, extinguishment, facing death, fade-out, fading, failing, failure, failure of nerve, fall, falling-off, fickle, final summons, finger of death, fire fighting, flame-out, fleeting, flitting, fly-by-night, flying, fragile, frail, fugacious, fugitive, given up, going, going off, going out, grave, hand of death, hopeless, impermanent, impetuous, impulsive, in articulo mortis, in extremis, incapable of life, inconstant, insubstantial, involution, jaws of death, knell, languishment, lapse, last debt, last muster, last rest, last roundup, last sleep, leaving life, lessening, letup, loss of life, loss of tone, low, lowering, making an end, miniaturization, mitigation, momentary, moribund, mortal, mutable, near death, nondurable, nonpermanent, nonviable, parting, passing, passing away, passing over, perishable, perishing, putting out, quenching, quietus, receding, reduction, regression, relaxation, release, rest, retiring, retreating, retrocession, retrogradation, retrogression, reward, sagging, scaling down, sentence of death, shades of death, shadow of death, short-lived, shrinking, simplicity, sinking, sleep, slippage, slipping, slipping away, slump, smotheration, smothering, snuffing, somatic death, stifling, subtraction, summons of death, temporal, temporary, terminal, terminal case, transient, transitive, transitory, undurable, unenduring, unstable, volatile, wane, waning, weakening
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