From IFWiki

The traditional, non-ideal ending of interactive fiction, generally synonymous with losing. The literal death of the player-character is not the only nonoptimal ending to most games. Sometimes reaching any losing situation (not solving the mystery in Deadline (Marc Blank; 1982; ZIL), for example) may be referred to as "having died." On the other hand, the player-character's death is not actually a terminal point in all IF. Few games after Zork have chosen to implement reincarnation, but Shrapnel (Adam Cadre; 2000; Z-code) provides another, different example of the simulation continuing "after death."

To IF authors, "death" may be used to refer to any terminal point, regardless of whether the player-character is dead or the player has lost. For instance, in Inform 6, if the player wins, the variable "deadflag" is set to the positive value of 2, as if this were a sort of death.

(See also: sudden death, multiple endings, optimal ending, and winning.)