Having a bit of a discussion at work. We have a label that needs to be answered with deceased or alive, however we're not sure what to call the label. Status seems to be a bit too generic.
Is there a word to indicate the state of life of a being?
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There may not be a word sufficiently natural and succinct to use as a label in a software user interface, especially for such a delicate subject. Instead, I recommend simply labeling the field Alive? with a check box to indicate yes or no. Alternately you could provide two check boxes to choose from, Alive and Deceased.
On a paper form, where a bit more verbosity and instruction is reasonable, you could phrase this less tersely, although I would still recommend following the same basic principle of checking one of “Alive” or “Deceased” rather than trying to use an uncommon term to represent the concept.
Update: I checked out user49727's suggestion of vital status in Google Books, and it looks like it's a legitimate term used by medical health professionals and genealogists. If that gives sufficient context for your users to complete the form, I recommend using it. However, if they must literally enter alive or deceased in a free-form field, I think the clearest way to indicate that is to label the field Alive or Deceased?
It is called living status or preferably vital status, as the former phrase has been used in wider contexts.
Though it may sound a little bit odd:
aliveness - the quality of being alive
I believe it's literally "state". If you are to enquire about whether a person is alive or dead without literally asking "are they alive or dead?", you ask for their state.
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