a matter of life or death

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a matter of life or death

1. An issue or circumstance that involves or carries the possibility that someone may die. We have to get these donor organs to the hospital right away—it's a matter of life or death!
2. An extremely serious and important issue; a matter or circumstance that may have dire consequences. I hope you're well prepared, because this board meeting is a matter of life or death for the company.
See also: death, life, matter, of