I'm trying to contrast three types of mortality: "mortal", things which are living and temporary (humans); "immortal", things which maintain their existence through infinite lives (ideas); and "amortal", things which are not dependent on life to exist (machines).

'Amortal' is not technically a word; I was inspired by the use of 'astable' in an engineering context (https://english.stackexchange.com/a/134912/77833). Still, I find this comparison beautiful. Here's a sentence that attempts to incorporate all of them:

While the mortal architects of society have proven its foundations unstable, the architects of the Internet have engineered an immortal feat of amortal stability.

Does "amortal" make sense in this context? Or, how might you rewrite this sentence with a similar comparison?

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    But surely nothing exists forever. Even the stable isotope of gold is subject to proton decay and has a half-life (very long, around 10³⁴ years, but not infinite). – Andrew Leach Jul 5 '20 at 7:11
  • @Andrew Leach "It is life, Jim, but not as we know it." A half-life and, say, human life, are different concepts. "Half-life uses "life" in a figurative sense. – Greybeard Jul 5 '20 at 14:37
  • I see no objection to coining "amortal" as a nonce word = without, or lacking, mortality, but the word for things like machines, toothpicks, and rock is "inanimate." – Greybeard Jul 5 '20 at 14:40
  • You can make up (or use in an unusual way) any word you please, as long as you make its intended meaning clear; whether doing so is going to be illuminating or distracting will be a matter of opinion, which will partially depend on the overall quality of your writing project. – jsw29 Jul 6 '20 at 5:44

Amortal is a word.

amortal in British English



pursuing a lifestyle that defies the process of ageing

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/amortal

Note that Merriam-Webster has "amort" which with a little stretch could be made adjectival.

Definition of amort archaic : being at the point of death https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amort

  • So the difference between amortal and immortal is that someone living an amortal lifestyle can (and will if they continue the amortal lifestyle long enough) succumb to infection, accident, homicide or warfare whereas an immortal can neither die naturally nor violently. I think the MW definition is a bit of a red herring since that seems to be the other 'a' prefix meaning 'on' or 'at' as in 'aboard', 'astern', 'athwart' and so on. – BoldBen Jul 5 '20 at 18:34

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