1

lapse

play
noun \ ˈlaps \
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of lapse

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

Examples of lapse in a Sentence

  1. He blamed the error on a minor mental lapse.

  2. a lapse into bad habits

Recent Examples of lapse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of lapse

Latin lapsus, from labi to slip — more at sleep

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

lapse

verb

Definition of lapse

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 membership
  • AAUP Bull.

lapser

noun

Examples of lapse in a Sentence

  1. After a few polite words the conversation lapsed.

  2. Her interest in politics lapsed while she was in medical school.

  3. She didn't pay the premium and her life insurance policy lapsed.

  4. He forgot to renew his driver's license, so it lapsed.

  5. She allowed the magazine subscription to lapse.

Recent Examples of lapse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of lapse

see 1lapse

lapse Synonyms


Financial Definition of LAPSE

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.



LAPSE Defined for English Language Learners

lapse

play
noun

Definition of lapse for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of lapse for English Language Learners

  • : to stop for usually a brief time

  • : to become no longer effective or valid


LAPSE Defined for Kids

1

lapse

play
noun \ ˈlaps \

Definition of lapse for Students

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.

2

lapse

verb

Definition of lapse for Students

lapsed; lapsing
1 :to slip, pass, or fall gradually
  • The conversation lapsed into silence.
2 :to come to an end :cease
  • The car insurance lapsed.

Law Dictionary

1

lapse

play
noun \ ˈlaps \

legal Definition of lapse

: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

2

lapse

verb

legal Definition of lapse

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


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