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noun \ˈlaps\

Simple Definition of lapse

  • : an occurrence in which you fail to think or act in the usual or proper way for a brief time and make a mistake

  • : an occurrence in which someone behaves badly for usually a short period of time

  • : a change that results in worse behavior

Full Definition of lapse

  1. 1 a :  a slight error typically due to forgetfulness or inattention <a lapse in table manners> b :  a temporary deviation or fall especially from a higher to a lower state <a lapse from grace>

  2. 2 :  a becoming less :  decline

  3. 3 a (1) :  the termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it within some limit of time (2) :  termination of coverage for nonpayment of premiums b :  interruption, discontinuance <returned to college after a lapse of several years>

  4. 4 :  an abandonment of religious faith

  5. 5 :  a passage of time; also :  interval

Examples of lapse

  1. He blamed the error on a minor mental lapse.

  2. a lapse into bad habits

Origin of lapse

Latin lapsus, from labi to slip — more at sleep

First Known Use: 1526

Synonym Discussion of lapse

error, mistake, blunder, slip, lapse mean a departure from what is true, right, or proper. error suggests the existence of a standard or guide and a straying from the right course through failure to make effective use of this <procedural errors>. mistake implies misconception or inadvertence and usually expresses less criticism than error <dialed the wrong number by mistake>. blunder regularly imputes stupidity or ignorance as a cause and connotes some degree of blame <diplomatic blunders>. slip stresses inadvertence or accident and applies especially to trivial but embarrassing mistakes <a slip of the tongue>. lapse stresses forgetfulness, weakness, or inattention as a cause <a lapse in judgment>.

Rhymes with lapse




Simple Definition of lapse

  • : to stop for usually a brief time

  • : to become no longer effective or valid

Full Definition of lapse


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to fall from an attained and usually high level (as of morals or manners) to one much lower; also :  to depart from an accepted pattern or standard b :  sink, slip <lapsed into unconsciousness>

  3. 2 :  to go out of existence :  cease <after a few polite exchanges, the conversation lapsed>

  4. 3 :  to pass from one proprietor to another or from an original owner by omission or negligence <allowed the insurance policy to lapse>

  5. 4 :  to glide along :  pass <time lapses>

  6. transitive verb
  7. :  to let slip :  forfeit <all of those who have lapsed their membership — AAUP Bulletin>

laps·er noun

Examples of lapse

  1. After a few polite words the conversation lapsed.

  2. Her interest in politics lapsed while she was in medical school.

  3. She didn't pay the premium and her life insurance policy lapsed.

  4. He forgot to renew his driver's license, so it lapsed.

  5. She allowed the magazine subscription to lapse.


First Known Use of lapse


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up lapse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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