1 of 2


elapsed; elapsing

intransitive verb

: pass, go by
four years elapsed before he returned


2 of 2


: passage
returned after an elapse of 15 years

Examples of elapse in a Sentence

Verb in those coin-operated binoculars at scenic areas your viewing time seems to elapse almost before it has begun
Recent Examples on the Web
Seven decades had to elapse before readers were willing suspend disbelief about the antebellum South and luxuriate in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Amity Shlaes, National Review, 14 Sep. 2023 Two plays later, Tagovailoa scrambled 23 yards to give the Terps a 7-0 lead with just 2:54 elapsed from the game. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 8 Sep. 2023 In bringing Homer back from antiquity, Wilson also had to bridge the chasm of time that has elapsed in English literature since the first full translation of the Odyssey: George Chapman’s, in 1616. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 But when decades elapse between the start of menstruation and the first pregnancy, women accumulate damage to the DNA in their breast tissue. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 22 July 2023 When the time fully elapsed, Ken asked Alex to share his guess. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 12 July 2023 Thirdly, the maintenance costs of legacy systems keep spiraling as time elapses. Mohit Gupta, Forbes, 4 May 2023 Less than two years elapsed before the next censure — and more attempts are on the way. Carl Hulse, New York Times, 8 Aug. 2023 From there, many decades elapsed before the true nature of the Milky Way’s shape became clear when radio astronomers began measuring the overall movement and distances of gas clouds in our galaxy. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 4 Aug. 2023
Approximately five seconds elapse between the time that the officer gets out of his patrol car, runs over to the driver’s side of Irizarry’s vehicle, and fires his gun what appears to be six times with at least one shot striking Irizarry’s front windshield. Danny Freeman, CNN, 8 Sep. 2023 The 17 hours that elapse between check-in and check-out will be spent doing any number of activities laid out in the listing. Charlie Hobbs, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Aug. 2023 From the moment the algorithms set to work detecting their targets until these targets are prosecuted — a term of art in the field — no more than two or three minutes elapse. Bruno Maçães, Time, 10 July 2023 But several minutes elapse before officers attempt to deliver oxygen or CPR. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2023 The day marks the elapse of a 30-day grace period since the country was due to pay the equivalent of $100 million in dollars and euros to bondholders. Caitlin Ostroff, WSJ, 26 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'elapse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin elapsus, past participle of elabi, from e- + labi to slip — more at sleep

First Known Use


1644, in the meaning defined above


circa 1677, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of elapse was in 1644

Dictionary Entries Near elapse

Cite this Entry

“Elapse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elapse. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


elapsed; elapsing
: to slip or glide away : pass
weeks elapsed before I found time to write

More from Merriam-Webster on elapse

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