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What's the difference between "life time" and "lifetime"?

According to this Yahoo! Answer (which definitely isn't an authority):

lifetime: life: the period during which something is functional (as between birth and death); "the battery had a short life"; "he lived a long and happy life"

life time: which takes place in real-time as the surgeons perform an operation that must be completed within 22 minutes

I'm more interested in the "life time" meaning. Is it correct?

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Have you tried looking in a dictionary? If so, please explain what it says and why that doesn't answer your question. –  TrevorD Jul 23 '13 at 10:43
    
@TrevorD: I didn't find "life time" in any dictionary? Did you? If so, please share your findings. Thanks. –  John Assymptoth Jul 23 '13 at 10:56
    
'life time' is surely a meaningful, well formed term but is not a set phrase like 'life time'. Yahoo answers is not an authority (neither is here for that matter, but there is an attempt at quality control here) –  Mitch Jul 23 '13 at 12:09

1 Answer 1

life time: which takes place in real-time as the surgeons perform an operation that must be completed within 22 minutes

This may be expressed as "Time left to live" ("time before death", "time for life") and indeed there is an expression used in computing of Time To Live (TTL).

Grammatically, life is an attributive noun modifying time.

Because of the potential for confusion with lifetime (the entire duration of a life) it's probably best avoided.

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Thanks for the answer. I can't find any use of "life time" with this meaning. Google doesn't show any results... Maybe "life time" is just plain wrong... –  John Assymptoth Jul 23 '13 at 11:02
    
It's definitely unusual, but in the context of an operation, one might say that the patient has a life time of 22 minutes. Just as one might ask a deep-sea diver "What's your air time?" (How many minutes of air do you have left?) which is different from airtime. –  Andrew Leach Jul 23 '13 at 11:08

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