lapse

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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
3
a(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

2 of 2

verb

lapsed; lapsing

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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.
lapser noun
Choose the Right Synonym for lapse

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In its own investigation into its fire preparation and response, conducted by the Western Fire Chiefs Association, the Maui Fire Department highlighted significant lapses in planning and resources needed to respond to a major event. Anumita Kaur, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2024 But there is no way to replace the lapse of U.S. military aid. Trudy Rubin, Twin Cities, 12 Apr. 2024 The last funding lapse, which stretched from December 2018 until January 2019, caused a permanent loss of about $3 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office report. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 11 Apr. 2024 As has been widely noted, Israeli security officials were caught completely off guard by Hamas’s shocking October 7 attack, a lapse that allowed the rampage to go on for hours before Israeli forces could regain control. Joost Hiltermann, Foreign Affairs, 28 Mar. 2024 Some of the concerns echoed accusations of quality lapses by several whistle-blowers at Boeing’s South Carolina factory who spoke to The Times in 2019. Santul Nerkar, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 The florid accusations against Ukraine and the West — combined with authorities’ public flaunting of ferocious retaliation such as cutting off part of one suspect’s ear — are probably calculated to divert attention from intelligence lapses that led to the attack, longtime Russia watchers said. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2024 Of course, the main sources of frustration for Sacramento are the lapses against inferior teams. Chris Biderman, Sacramento Bee, 24 Mar. 2024 The lapse raised questions about whether Mr. Putin’s security services, which have been concentrating squarely on waging war against Ukraine, overlooked the threat posed by extremist Islamic groups. Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, 23 Mar. 2024
Verb
Barely missing its midnight deadline, the Senate voted early Saturday to reauthorize a key U.S. surveillance law after divisions over whether the FBI should be restricted from using the program to search for Americans’ data nearly forced the statute to lapse. Farnoush Amiri, Fortune, 20 Apr. 2024 Pay attention to medical issues and documents, and update anything that is about to lapse. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 19 Apr. 2024 Section 702, the surveillance authority that will lapse if Congress fails to renew it, is a different animal. The Editors, National Review, 12 Apr. 2024 Their ability to bypass local governments is intended to be temporary and would lapse at the start of 2029. Russ Bynum, Quartz, 28 Mar. 2024 Pima County officials warned that federal funds will lapse on March 31. The Arizona Republic, 26 Mar. 2024 Health insurance coverage for all employees has lapsed, and staff have begun asking their supervisors what to do. Ciara McCarthy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 29 Mar. 2024 Should any sticking points arise, an additional short-term measure to keep the government funded may be necessary — or funding could lapse for some government agencies. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 21 Mar. 2024 Funding for roughly 70 percent of the federal government — including the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security as well as the Internal Revenue Service — will lapse at 12:01 a.m. Saturday unless Congress acts before then. Nick Miroff, Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Latin lapsus, from labi to slip — more at sleep

First Known Use

Noun

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1611, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lapse was in 1526

Dictionary Entries Near lapse

Cite this Entry

“Lapse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lapse. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

lapse

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: a slight error or slip
lapse of memory
b
: a temporary fall especially from a higher to a lower state
lapse into bad habits
2
: the ending of a right or privilege through failure to meet requirements
3
: a passage of time

lapse

2 of 2 verb
lapsed; lapsing
1
: to slip, pass, or fall gradually
lapse into silence
2
: to come to an end : cease

Legal Definition

lapse

1 of 2 noun
: 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

2 of 2 verb
lapsed; lapsing

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

More from Merriam-Webster on lapse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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