lapse

noun
\ ˈlaps How to pronounce lapse (audio) \

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.

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hardly a day goes by without word of yet another data breach or security lapse. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Consumers would be more forgiving of data breaches if companies just came clean," 9 Sep. 2019 Among other things, the AJC detailed how insects, mold and grime had made the place a breeding ground for infection and how security lapses had caused nurses to flee for their safety. Danny Robbins, ajc, "Doctor and nurses warn that prison medical care again in jeopardy," 8 Sep. 2019 Others will acknowledge misbehavior, but frame it in the most benign terms: as immaturity, a mistake or a lapse. Braden Bell, Washington Post, "Eight things for parents to keep in mind when dealing with school discipline issues," 6 Sep. 2019 Wilson's run and finish for his goal were excellent but once again the Cherries were undone by some defensive lapses which ultimately saw them ship yet more costly goals. SI.com, "Leicester 3-1 Bournemouth: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Foxes Ease to Impressive Win," 31 Aug. 2019 The 50-page lawsuit accuses the two power monopolies of racking up a series of regulatory violations, maintaining an unsafe worksite and tolerating lax safety standards, among other lapses. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Onofre owners, contractor and regulators face new lawsuit over fuel storage plan," 30 Aug. 2019 The consultants’ review comes at the end of a brutal summer for the MBTA, which has struggled to mitigate rider frustration over service and safety lapses. Vernal Coleman, BostonGlobe.com, "Consultants assessing T safety come with high price tag," 26 Aug. 2019 An occasional self-conscious lapse from decorum among the powerful is charming. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "A Slow News Month for Trump," 23 Aug. 2019 In a statement to CNN, Moviepass said a security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, "MoviePass Confirms Data Breach That May Have Exposed Credit Card Numbers," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Adams County has a six-month moratorium on new oil and gas drilling applications, imposed in March, that will be allowed to lapse later this month. John Aguilar, The Denver Post, "Adams County tightens oil and gas rules, first to do so since Colorado Senate Bill 181 passed," 3 Sep. 2019 Call my bluff With Macau’s economy so dependent upon casinos, letting the licenses lapse for the sake of the trade war seems like a nuclear option—even in a conflict that’s increasingly self-defeating. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "How China’s Casino Enclave of Macau Could Become a Bargaining Chip in the U.S. Trade War," 31 Aug. 2019 Even many of the onetime diehards (ahem) let their devotion lapse when their CDs scratched and their iPods fritzed. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Why Tool Could Be More Relevant Today Than Ever Before," 21 Aug. 2019 In a famous 1990s case, a restaurateur in South Africa successfully argued that McDonald’s Corp. had let its trademark lapse through nonuse. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, "How Supreme Got Pulled Into a Fight for Its Billion-Dollar Brand," 28 June 2019 The state agency allowed the clinic's license to lapse as of June 1, but St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer said the health department had to make a definitive decision on whether or not the license would be renewed on Friday. Fox News, "Missouri's lone abortion clinic loses license to perform procedure," 22 June 2019 Strokosch said his department let protective custody of the child lapse on May 13 because his father had been identified. Sara Burnett, The Seattle Times, "Illinois not alerted to early clues in womb-cutting case," 19 May 2019 Strokosch said his department let protective custody of the child lapse on May 13 because his father had been identified. Sara Burnett, BostonGlobe.com, "Illinois not alerted to early clues in womb-cutting case," 19 May 2019 It was meant to be temporary and its permit lapsed. Julia Sclafani, Daily Pilot, "Agreement clears Laguna couple to appeal ruling against seawall, though other efforts are dropped," 23 Aug. 2019

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.

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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 and Verb

Latin lapsus, from labi to slip — more at sleep

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Statistics for lapse

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lapse

The first known use of lapse was in 1526

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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 How to pronounce lapse (audio) \

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.

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lapse

noun
\ ˈlaps How to pronounce lapse (audio) \

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

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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

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