la·​ches | \ ˈla-chəz How to pronounce laches (audio) , ˈlā- How to pronounce laches (audio) \
plural laches

Definition of laches

: negligence in the observance of duty or opportunity specifically : undue delay in asserting a legal right or privilege

Examples of laches in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ceglia’s attempt to get half of Facebook — a company now estimated to be worth somewhere between $55 and $85 billion — also faces the difficult problem of the doctrine of laches. Ryan Singel, WIRED, "E-Mails Prove Zuck Stole 50 Percent of Facebook from Investor, Suit Claims," 12 Apr. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'laches.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of laches

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for laches

Middle English lachesse, from Anglo-French laschesce, from lasche lax, ultimately from Latin laxare to loosen — more at lease

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The first known use of laches was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Laches.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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la·​ches | \ ˈla-chəz, ˈlā-, -shəz How to pronounce laches (audio) \
plural laches

Legal Definition of laches

1 : undue delay in asserting a right or privilege — compare statute of limitations
2a : a doctrine permitting dismissal of a suit because a plaintiff's unreasonable delay in asserting a right or privilege has been detrimental to the defendant's ability to make a defense (as by resulting in the unavailability of witnesses or evidence) a suit barred by laches
b : an affirmative defense based on this doctrine

History and Etymology for laches

Anglo-French lachesce laschesce negligence, from Old French lasche lax, ultimately from Latin laxare to loosen, from laxus slack

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