Way of life / way of living ?


Belgium - French
Dear all,

I found two close expressions on the web: way of life and way of living. the seems close but I wonder if there is a difference anyway.

According to some contexts I see when googling both expressions, I have the feeling that :

  • way of life covers a very general description of the way you are living, habits and material facts, related to your culture , religion, income, particular history... << not English >>;
  • way of living is describing a matter of discipline, every day's conduct, related to culture, religion, personal choice... << not English >> .
Do I feel right ?
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  • Jenawen22

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    "Way of life" is a broader term. It refers to the general way in which you live. I think of it as the defining circumstances of your life.

    For example: John searches through trash cans for metal and bottles to take to the recycling center for money. He wakes up each morning on a park bench, not knowing where he will sleep that evening. In the winter, he often breaks into abandoned buildings for shelter from the cold. For John, and other homeless people, this is just a way of life.

    Way of living is not an expression I have heard as much. However, it seems to me to be more specific but I can't really think of an example.

    I hope this helps some!


    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    There is a difference in degree of fulfilment:
    1. A way of life - an all embracing, satisfying way. Life = a state verb indicating an abstract state of being.
    2. A way of living - a partially satisfying way. Living = an active verb indicating actively meeting concrete needs but not neccessarily abstract needs.

    The degree of fulfilment can go further down:
    3. A way of living, but not (all I want from) life - *
    4. A way of life, but not (what I call) living - *
    5. Eking out an existance/a way of existing/an existance - unsatisfactory

    *3. and *4. amount to the same - a less than satisfactory life.

    'Life' and 'living' are both uncountable nouns when used without an article (a/the), and thus point to abstract, over-arching ideas of what life should be.