noun (1)
\ ˈlap How to pronounce lap (audio) \

Definition of lap

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : a loose overlapping or hanging panel or flap especially of a garment
b archaic : the skirt of a coat or dress
2a : the clothing that lies on the knees, thighs, and lower part of the trunk when one sits
b : the front part of the lower trunk and thighs of a seated person
3 : responsible custody : control going to drop the whole thing in your lap— Hamilton Basso
the lap of luxury
: an environment of great ease, comfort, and wealth


verb (1)
lapped; lapping

Definition of lap (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

1a : to fold over or around something : wind
b : to envelop entirely : swathe
2 : to fold over especially into layers
3 : to hold protectively in or as if in the lap : cuddle
4a : to place over and cover a part of : overlap lap shingles on a roof
b : to join (things, such as two boards) by a lap joint
5a : to dress, smooth, or polish (something, such as a metal surface) to a high degree of refinement or accuracy
b : to shape or fit by working two surfaces together with or without abrasives until a very close fit is produced
6a : to overtake and thereby lead or increase the lead over (another contestant) by a full circuit of a racecourse
b : to complete the circuit of (a racecourse)

intransitive verb

1 : fold, wind
2a : to project beyond or spread over something
b : to lie partly over or alongside of something or of one another : overlap
3 : to traverse a course


noun (2)

Definition of lap (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : the amount by which one object overlaps or projects beyond another
b : the part of an object that overlaps another
2 : a smoothing and polishing tool usually consisting of a piece of wood, leather, felt, or soft metal in a special shape used with or without an embedded abrasive
3 : a doubling or layering of a flexible substance (such as fibers or paper)
4a : the act or an instance of traversing a course (such as a racing track or swimming pool) also : the distance covered
b : one segment of a larger unit (such as a journey)
c : one complete turn (as of a rope around a drum)


verb (2)
lapped; lapping; laps

Definition of lap (Entry 4 of 5)

1a transitive + intransitive : to take in (food or drink) with the tongue a cat lapping milk from a dish often used with up Covered with sticky saliva, this long tongue helps the aardvark lap up a lot of termites.— Jo Anne Chitwood Snow
b transitive : to take in or absorb (something) eagerly or quickly used with up The crowd lapped up every word he said.
2a intransitive : to make a gentle, intermittent splashing sound It was quiet except for the ripples of water lapping at the side of the boat.— Elisa Smith
b intransitive : to move in little waves : wash … banging the table so hard that a couple of lattes lapped over the edge of their cups …— Douglas Frantz et al.
c transitive : to flow or splash against (something) in little waves … the firm ribbon of beach lapped by waves.— William Nack


noun (3)

Definition of lap (Entry 5 of 5)

1a : an act or instance of lapping
b : the amount that can be carried to the mouth by one lick or scoop of the tongue
2 : a thin or weak beverage or food
3 : a gentle splashing sound

Other Words from lap

Noun (1)

lapful \ ˈlap-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce lap (audio) \ noun

First Known Use of lap

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (3)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lap

Noun (1)

Middle English lappe, from Old English læppa; akin to Old High German lappa flap

Verb (2)

Middle English, from Old English lapian; akin to Old High German laffan to lick, Latin lambere, Greek laphyssein to devour

Learn More About lap

Time Traveler for lap

Time Traveler

The first known use of lap was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Lap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for lap


\ ˈlap How to pronounce lap (audio) \

Kids Definition of lap

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: the front part of a person between the hips and the knees when seated


lapped; lapping

Kids Definition of lap (Entry 2 of 4)

: overlap Lap one paper over another.



Kids Definition of lap (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a part of something that overlaps another part
2 : one time around or over a course (as of a racetrack or swimming pool)
3 : a stage in a trip


lapped; lapping

Kids Definition of lap (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : to scoop up food or drink with the tongue The dog lapped up the water.
2 : to splash gently The cold stream lapped his bare heels …— Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia



Medical Definition of lap



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