When something is dying it is not completely dead. Only half or almost there. I need a word that means gaining life, as in almost completely alive. Like the reverse of dying. When you die the flame of life dims and burns out. I'm looking for a dim light that increases its intensity as fuel is added. I can think of perfectly good antonyms like waning, dimming, dwindle, ebbing, fading, but not many synonyms. It doesn't sound right.

It's a weird description, but it doesn't have to necessarily be about life. Maybe light, or fire or anything. Does such a word exist? If not, is there any word or several words that sound like this?

  • 5
    Do you mean something like revive, revivify, be resuscitated, quicken, reanimate, be energized, be resurrected?
    – Erik Kowal
    May 17, 2015 at 8:20
  • 4
    Have you looked for antonyms of wane, dim, dwindle, ebb, fade?
    – Andrew Leach
    May 17, 2015 at 8:21
  • @Brenda - I would go with Erik. A weird problem needs a weird solution. Use resurrected. This will convey what you want to convey, and will also exaggerate the meaning a little bit - which will be in your favor, of course. May 17, 2015 at 11:06
  • English doesn't have an active verb for being born. Born itself is deponent and must appear in the passive. Other than that, being born the opposite of dying, at least for mammals. Birds, etc. might substitute hatching. All the other words suggested are for bringing live things back to life, rather than beginning life (as death is ending it). May 17, 2015 at 14:48
  • Born used to be the past participle of bear but it's been specialized for this usage, and a homonym with a different spelling (borne) is now considered the pple of bear. I.e, "I could never have borne/*born the embarrassment." May 17, 2015 at 16:01

13 Answers 13


Perhaps the word rejuvenating.

This refers to something or someone gaining strength or vigour it once/previously had.

  • Irrelevant fun fact: Directly translating the root and stem from the Latin from whence they came, this means "being made young again". Since as you get older, you die, it has a nice symmetry -- you're made young again as the opposite of that.
    – anon
    May 17, 2015 at 21:10
  • Yeah - that's really appropriate!
    – Resquiens
    May 19, 2015 at 22:22

A living thing would revitalize.

revitalize (v): to make (someone or something) active, healthy, or energetic again; to give new life or vigor to.

A light would brighten or intensify.

  • 1
    I was going to suggest "brighten (up)" also. I think it can be used in different contexts also if we include the figurative sense.
    – ermanen
    May 17, 2015 at 17:45

A person would be recovering. A light would be intensifying. A houseplant would be perking-up.

  • Recovering sounds too dull and in slow motion. Doesn't it? May 17, 2015 at 11:07
  • Not if the person has been in a coma for five years. ("My God, Madge, get your new husband out of the room... Fred is recovering!")
    – Oldbag
    May 17, 2015 at 11:12
  • Well, in that case, I agree with you. I am just pointing out the sheer drag that comes with the word recovery. Recovery doesn't show immediacy, I think. May 17, 2015 at 11:25

regenerating’ or perhaps ‘reviving

It's often used in sci-fi for example Dr.Who regenerates

This is really context dependent.

Who comes back to life? Why? How should we feel about it? Was he dead or just injured? Was this a physical or brain injury? Is the healing magical, mechanical or by providence?

  • Could you please flesh out your answer. Perhaps provide examples, or references etc. Thanks.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 17, 2015 at 15:35

I think you're looking for a word like kindling, which means to arouse or inspire, to start building a fire. It is the opposite of dying.

  • 2
    Or indeed rekindling.
    – Erik Kowal
    May 17, 2015 at 9:20
  • 1
    You picked the wrong definitions. With those definitions, the opposite of dying would not be kindling, it would be being kindled. But kindle can also be used as an intransitive verb, and in that sense, it's a good fit.
    – hvd
    May 17, 2015 at 13:35
  • You've got your grammar slightly off -- kindling is a noun. The verb is 'to kindle'.
    – anon
    May 17, 2015 at 17:12
  • @QPaysTaxes …and its gerund form is kindling as well.
    – wchargin
    May 17, 2015 at 21:07
  • @WChagrin ...Oh right! Though the way he uses it later ('to arouse or inspire, to start building a fire') suggests that he should use 'to kindle'.
    – anon
    May 17, 2015 at 21:08

I would suggest nascent.

It means "coming into being" or "beginning to develop, or grow", and is derived from the Latin nasci meaning "to be born".


The word you're looking for is thriving

verb gerund or present participle: thriving (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously. "the new baby thrived" prosper; flourish.

  • 1
    I take thriving to be more like "starting well, staying well, and growing from there." May 17, 2015 at 17:50

Something could enliven or (re-)vitalize, or become invigorated or undergo excitation or even essentiation?


The word waxing is close to your stated requirements.

intransitive verb

1 a : to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity
b : to grow in volume or duration
c : to grow toward full development

2 : to increase in phase or intensity —used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets

It's not all that common a word on its own- more often seen in partnership with waning as in this headline from The Economist.

  • I was going to say waxing.
    – Rob Grant
    May 18, 2015 at 8:49

Are you referring to the stirring of a new life, or the rebirth of a previous one? In the first case, perhaps "dawning" might do: increasing brightness and a new beginning.


Not a single-word but a victorious simile

rise like a phoenix from the ashes

Emerge renewed after apparent disaster or destruction:
the team began their brave attempt to rise like some phoenix from the ashes

Oxford Dictionaries


I thought for sure the cancer would take Don, but now he's rallying.


I reckon the word you're looking for is quickening.

Wiktionary defines this as 'The action of bringing someone or something to life.' When something is in the process of quickening it is neither fully alive nor fully dead but somewhere in between. If used in the context of starting a fire this word refers to the period after the fire has been kindled but before the blaze has reached full intensity. e.g. "While the fire was quickening she set about dicing the bacon."

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