la·​ches ˈla-chəz How to pronounce laches (audio) ˈlā- How to pronounce laches (audio)
plural 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 The majority did indeed invoke laches, but only as to three of the four categories. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 17 Dec. 2020 Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania supreme court rejected the Republican lawsuit based on the doctrine of laches. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 8 Dec. 2020 Therefore, quite apart from laches, five of the seven justices ruled against the campaign on the merits. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 17 Dec. 2020 The court’s ruling on the issue of laches was unanimous. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 30 Nov. 2020 Any dispute as to whether any statute of limitations, estoppel, waiver, laches, or other doctrine bars the arbitration of any Claim shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement. Star Tribune, 29 Oct. 2020 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, 12 Apr. 2011 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near laches

Cite this Entry

“Laches.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Legal Definition


plural laches
: undue delay in asserting a right or privilege compare statute of limitations
: 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
: an affirmative defense based on this doctrine

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

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