lapse

noun
\ˈlaps \

Definition of lapse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a slight error typically due to forgetfulness or inattention a lapse in table manners a lapse in security

b : a temporary deviation or fall especially from a higher to a lower state a lapse from grace ethical lapses

2 : a becoming less : decline a lapse in the supply of technicians

3a(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 the lapse of an insurance policy

b : interruption, discontinuance returned to college after a lapse of several years

4 : an abandonment of religious faith

5 : a passage of time also : interval the roots of trees … have been preserved after a lapse of five thousand years — Niger Calder

lapse

verb
lapsed; lapsing

Definition of lapse (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : 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

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

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

4 : to glide along : pass time lapses

transitive verb

: to let slip : forfeit all of those who have lapsed their membershipAAUP Bull.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from lapse

Verb

lapser noun

Choose the Right Synonym for lapse

Noun

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

Examples of lapse in a Sentence

Noun

He blamed the error on a minor mental lapse. a lapse into bad habits

Verb

After a few polite words the conversation lapsed. Her interest in politics lapsed while she was in medical school. She didn't pay the premium and her life insurance policy lapsed. He forgot to renew his driver's license, so it lapsed. She allowed the magazine subscription to lapse.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The scammers then noticed the lapse, obtained the same IP address from Linode, and used it to host the scammy documents. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "When a network intel provider’s domain serves fraudulent content, something is wrong," 15 Nov. 2018 The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, acknowledged the lapse but says the visit to the Ghetto will be significant and an important part of the visit. Nicole Winfield And Maria Grazia Murru, Fox News, "Pope begins Baltics pilgrimage as Russia threat looms large," 22 Sep. 2018 In recent years, Congress has missed deadlines and passed short-term extensions to bridge the lapses in spending. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "Lawmakers Reach Deal to Avoid Shutdown Drama Before Midterms," 13 Sep. 2018 The original version of the bill, sponsored by House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, kept the license in Harrah's hands -- without opening it to outside bidders -- for another three decades when the current one lapses. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "Governor on Harrah's: 'I just need to know that it is a good deal'," 16 May 2018 Perhaps the easiest problems to address are the internal lapses. Eric Lichtblau, Time, "The FBI Is in Crisis. It's Worse Than You Think," 3 May 2018 The Clippers, who were never in the game against the Jazz, can't afford to have another lapse. Broderick Turner, latimes.com, "Clippers face three must-win games at home, two against teams fighting them for playoff spot," 7 Apr. 2018 Real had the aforementioned lapse, but his name wasn’t called much at all until then, which is good for a defender. Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com, "Union's loss at Rapids set record for youngest defense in MLS history, for better and worse," 2 Apr. 2018 Yes, this is fiction, but the ethical lapse is disappointing and distracting. Susan Kaplan Carlton, BostonGlobe.com, "Meredith Goldstein is growing love in a lab," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This would have somewhat weakened the position’s independence relative to the executive; the independent counsel statute has since lapsed and the position no longer exists. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh, the almost-certain next member of the Supreme Court, explained," 5 Oct. 2018 Another change is a sunset clause, where the agreement would lapse after 16 years if it isn’t actively negotiated. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "Learning the wrong lessons from Trump’s rebranded NAFTA," 2 Oct. 2018 Baldwin is in an especially chatty mood, lapsing into voices and surfing from one funny anecdote to the next. Hank Stuever, chicagotribune.com, "'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' review: Series finally run out of gas — but is that Seinfeld's fault?," 9 July 2018 Witnesses told the British press that the couple — identified as Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44 — were frothing at the mouth and incoherent before lapsing into coma. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "After latest nerve agent poisoning, Britain demands that Russia explain ‘what has gone on’," 5 July 2018 That law, which lapsed in 2004, helped spark the Republican House takeover. Reid J. Epstein, WSJ, "The Democratic Party’s New Litmus Test: Gun Control," 9 Aug. 2018 There were no news conferences during 2016 and 2017 about the issue of lead, and no public announcement that the Housing Authority had restarted inspections of apartments that had lapsed for years, starting late in the Bloomberg administration. New York Times, "Mayor Vows to ‘Eradicate’ Lead From New York City Housing Projects," 10 July 2018 During the 2017 regular session and a special session earlier this year, lawmakers were unable to agree on which taxes should replace the revenue that will lapse at the end of June. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "Louisiana Legislature special session No. 2: Six things you need to know," 22 May 2018 Congress first authorized tax deductions for mortgage-insurance premiums more than a decade ago, but legal authority for the write-offs lapsed at the end of 2016. Kenneth R. Harney, miamiherald, "New budget holds hidden tax benefits | Miami Herald," 19 Feb. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of lapse

Noun

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1611, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for lapse

Noun

Latin lapsus, from labi to slip — more at sleep

Verb

see lapse entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lapse

Statistics for lapse

Last Updated

19 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lapse

The first known use of lapse was in 1526

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lapse

lapse

noun

Financial Definition of lapse

What It Is

Lapse refers to the expiration of an insurance policy or other agreement.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe has a life insurance policy with a $5,000 annual premium. This year, John can't make the payment because he has lost his job. As a result, he misses the payment and his life insurance coverage lapses, meaning that it is no longer valid. Later that year, John dies. Accordingly, his daughter does not receive the death benefit from the policy.

Why It Matters

In general, a lapse is a bad thing and it means that one party has failed to fulfill its obligations under a contract.

Source: Investing Answers

lapse

noun

English Language Learners Definition of lapse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

lapse

verb

English Language Learners Definition of lapse (Entry 2 of 2)

: to stop for usually a brief time

: to become no longer effective or valid

lapse

noun
\ˈlaps \

Kids Definition of lapse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a slight error usually caused by lack of attention or forgetfulness a lapse in manners lapses in judgment

2 : a change that results in a worse condition She suffered a lapse in confidence.

3 : a passage of time He returned after a lapse of two years.

lapse

verb
lapsed; lapsing

Kids Definition of lapse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to slip, pass, or fall gradually The conversation lapsed into silence.

2 : to come to an end : cease The car insurance lapsed.

Keep scrolling for more

lapse

noun
\ˈlaps \

Legal Definition of lapse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a termination or failure due to events, neglect, or time: as

a : the failure of a bequest (as because the intended recipient dies before the testator) — compare anti-lapse statute

b : the termination of an insurance policy because of nonpayment of premiums or nonrenewal

lapse

verb
lapsed; lapsing

Legal Definition of lapse (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to terminate, become ineffective, or fail the bequest lapsed when the son died before the father allowed the insurance policy to lapse

transitive verb

: to cause (as a policy) to lapse the company lapsed the policy

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lapse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lapse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lapse

Spanish Central: Translation of lapse

Nglish: Translation of lapse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lapse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on lapse

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a knickknack or trinket

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!