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.
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. 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. Death adder.
<zoology> A kind of viper found in South Africa (Acanthophis tortor); so called from the virulence of its venom. A venomous Australian snake of the family Elapidae, of several species, as the Hoplocephalus superbus and Acanthopis antarctica.
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.
Origin: OE. Deth, dea, AS. Dea; akin to OS. D, D. Dood, G. Tod, Icel. Daui, Sw. & Dan. Dod, Goth. Daupus; from a verb meaning to die. See Die, and cf. Dead.
(04 Mar 1998)
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