matter of life and death


Also found in: Wikipedia.

matter of life and death

Something that is gravely serious. This top-secret project is a matter of life and death, so every bit of information in it needs to be accurate. I'm a nurse, so if I make a mistake at my job, it's a matter of life and death.
See also: and, death, life, matter, of

matter of life and death

Cliché an issue of great urgency; an issue that will decide between living and dying. We must find a doctor. It's a matter of life and death. A matter of life and death demands that I return home at once.
See also: and, death, life, matter, of

a matter of life and death

or

a matter of life or death

COMMON If something is a matter of life and death or a matter of life or death, it is extremely important, often because someone could die or suffer great harm if something is not done. 24-hour care can actually be a matter of life and death for premature babies. Please, keep your voice down and just do what I say. This is a matter of life or death. Note: People say that something is not a matter of life and death to say that it is not very important, especially when someone else is acting as if it is. Well, never mind, John, it's not a matter of life and death. Note: People use life-and-death before nouns to describe a situation that is extremely serious or dangerous. We're dealing with a life-and-death situation here.
See also: and, death, life, matter, of

a matter of life and death

a matter of vital importance.
See also: and, death, life, matter, of
References in classic literature ?
Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death.
It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.
Yes: it is a matter of life and death, Alan, and to more than one person.
I am here on a matter of life and death, and if that door which you have locked was open at this moment, nothing you could say or do would induce me to pass through it.
The thing seemed clear enough; it was a matter of life and death.
Although she would infinitely have preferred a personal interview with Noel Vanstone, there was no choice on a matter of life and death but to save the precious hours by writing to him.
I bethought me of your flimsy things,” cried Natty, throwing loose the folds of a covering buckskin that he carried on his arm, and wrapping her form in it, in such a manner as to envelop her whole person; “ now follow, for it’s a matter of life and death to us all.
My lord, it is a matter of life and death," said the priest.
He brings in his psychology, too; one has to consider him, too, for it's a matter of life and death.
Everything that pretends to be a matter of life and death but isn't revealed itself.