life and/or death

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1. Involving or pertaining to the risk or possibility that someone may die. (Used prenominally.) As a police officer in this neighborhood, you end up facing life-and-death situations on a regular basis.
2. Extremely serious or of dire consequences; of imperative importance. (Used prenominally.) We've got some life-and-death decisions to make at the next board meeting that will determine the fate of the company.

(a matter of) ˌlife and/or ˈdeath

(informal) used to describe a situation that is very important or serious: We need that business deal, it’s a matter of life or death to the company.It’s hardly a life-and-death decision whether we drive or take the train, is it?
See also: and, death, life
References in classic literature ?
Nothing evil can happen to the good man either in life or death, and his own death has been permitted by the gods, because it was better for him to depart; and therefore he forgives his judges because they have done him no harm, although they never meant to do him any good.
On the other hand, his hope of immortality is uncertain;--he also conceives of death as a long sleep (in this respect differing from the Phaedo), and at last falls back on resignation to the divine will, and the certainty that no evil can happen to the good man either in life or death.