mid-15c. (implied in surviving), "to outlive, continue in existence after the death of another," originally in the legal (inheritance) sense, from Anglo-French survivre, Old French souvivre (12c., Modern French survivre), from Latin supervivere "live beyond, live longer than," from super "over, beyond" (see super-) + vivere "to live" (from PIE root *gwei- "to live"). Intransitive sense "to live on" is from late 15c. Related: Survived; surviving.
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