death (n.)

Old English deaþ "total cessation of life, act or fact of dying, state of being dead; cause of death," in plural, "ghosts," from Proto-Germanic *dauthuz (source also of Old Saxon doth, Old Frisian dath, Dutch dood, Old High German tod, German Tod, Old Norse dauði, Danish død, Swedish död, Gothic dauus "death"), from verbal stem *dau-, which is perhaps from PIE root *dheu- (3) "to die" (see die (v.)). With Proto-Germanic *-thuz suffix indicating "act, process, condition."

I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not have him meerly seise me, and onely declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me. When I must shipwrack, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotencie might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming. [John Donne, letter to Sir Henry Goodere, Sept. 1608]

Of inanimate things, "cessation, end," late 14c. From late 12c. as "death personified, a skeleton as the figure of mortality." As "a plague, a great mortality," late 14c. (in reference to the first outbreak of bubonic plague; compare Black Death). Death's-head, a symbol of mortality, is from 1590s. Death's door "the near approach of death" is from 1540s.

As a verbal intensifier "to death, mortally" (as in hate (something) to death) 1610s; earlier to dead (early 14c.). Slang be death on "be very good at" is from 1839. To be the death of "be the cause or occasion of death" is in Shakespeare (1596). Expression a fate worse than death is from 1810 though the idea is ancient.

Death row "part of a prison exclusively for those condemned to capital execution" is by 1912. Death knell is attested from 1814; death penalty "capital punishment" is from 1844; death rate from 1859. Death-throes "struggle which in some cases accompanies death" is from c. 1300.

updated on May 25, 2020

Definitions of death from WordNet
death (n.)
the event of dying or departure from life;
her death came as a terrible shock
Synonyms: decease / expiry
death (n.)
the permanent end of all life functions in an organism or part of an organism;
the animal died a painful death
death (n.)
the absence of life or state of being dead;
he seemed more content in death than he had ever been in life
death (n.)
the time when something ends;
it was the death of all his plans
Synonyms: dying / demise
death (n.)
the time at which life ends; continuing until dead;
she stayed until his death
Synonyms: last
death (n.)
a final state;
Synonyms: end / destruction
death (n.)
the act of killing;
he had two deaths on his conscience
Death (n.)
the personification of death;
From, not affiliated with etymonline.