live by

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live by

1. To reside some place close to a person or thing. I'm really looking forward to the move—it will be so nice to live by my parents. After growing up in a crowded city, it's almost surreal living by such wide open space.
2. To exist or survive due to some particular status or action. This company lives and dies by the work ethic of its employees, so we can't afford to have someone on board who isn't willing to do their share of the work. I didn't have any connections or experience when I moved to New York City, so I had to live by my wits.
3. To live in accordance with some creed, principle, ideal, etc. This company lives and dies by the work ethic of its employees, so we can't afford to have someone on board who isn't willing to do their share of the work. I didn't have any connections or experience when I moved to New York City, so I had to live by my wits.
See also: by, live
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

live by something

 
1. to live near something. We live by a lovely park that is filled with children in the summer. I would love to live by the sea.
2. to survive by doing or using something in particular. (See also live by one's wits.) She lives by her own skill and hard work. We live by the skills that we have—and hard work, of course.
See also: by, live
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
We might try our lives by a thousand simple tests; as, for instance, that the same sun which ripens my beans illumines at once a system of earths like ours.
Career counseling and guidance can move with the changes to make a greater difference in people's lives by helping them connect the parts of their own lives and connect with others in community for the common good.
The monastic life doesn't teach us how to cope with our lives by offering us a respite once a week where we hear how terrible life is "out there" and how beautiful it is "in here." Nor does it flatten religion to acts of social justice and community service, drawing the curtain that separates the holy from the secular, attempting to make both holy and, in doing so, making neither holy.