\ ˈlaks How to pronounce lax (audio) \

Definition of lax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a of the bowels : loose, open
b : having loose bowels
2 : deficient in firmness : not stringent lax control a lax foreman security has been lax
3a : not tense, firm, or rigid : slack a lax rope
b : having an open or loose texture a lax soil
c : having the constituents spread apart a lax flower cluster
4 : articulated with the muscles involved in a relatively relaxed state (such as the vowel \i\ in contrast with the vowel \ē\)



Definition of lax (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from lax


laxation \ lak-​ˈsā-​shən How to pronounce lax (audio) \ noun
laxly \ ˈlaks-​lē How to pronounce lax (audio) \ adverb
laxness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for lax


negligent, neglectful, lax, slack, remiss mean culpably careless or indicative of such carelessness. negligent implies inattention to one's duty or business. negligent about writing a note of thanks neglectful adds a more disapproving implication of laziness or deliberate inattention. a society callously neglectful of the poor lax implies a blameworthy lack of strictness, severity, or precision. a reporter lax about accurate quotation slack implies want of due or necessary diligence or care. slack workmanship remiss implies blameworthy carelessness shown in slackness, forgetfulness, or neglect. had been remiss in their familial duties

Examples of lax in a Sentence

Adjective The university has been lax about enforcing these rules. lax parents who let their kids stay out as late as they want
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Some epidemiologists also have said people and states were getting too lax too quickly. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Vaccines Appear to Be Slowing Spread of Covid-19 Infections," 28 Apr. 2021 The Jazz were able to take advantage of some lax first-quarter Wolves defense. Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune, "Timberwolves overcome porous start to knock off Utah 101-96," 24 Apr. 2021 This isn’t the result of bad planing or lax governance. New York Times, "C.E.O. Pay Remains Stratospheric, Even at Companies Battered by Pandemic," 24 Apr. 2021 Environmental advocates worry lax regulations on the state's natural gas industry have allowed methane contamination of groundwater and air to go unchecked. Christen Smith, Washington Examiner, "Environmentalists urge Pennsylvania to broaden pending methane rule," 23 Apr. 2021 This is unlikely anytime soon, Spiro said, because of the lax practices of certain Chinese, Eastern European, and Southeast Asian exchanges. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army," 19 Apr. 2021 The oil and gas industry has thrived for decades on lax regulation and subsidies. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The U.S. Has a Very Big Abandoned Oil Well Problem," 16 Apr. 2021 While the review found that nearly all of the evidence was accounted for, auditors found lax controls that increase the risk of tampering or theft, and several cases in which evidence was insufficiently logged. Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle, "Meet San Francisco's next chief medical examiner," 15 Apr. 2021 Some legislators worried that too much of that research could wind up in the hands of China because of lax safeguards against espionage. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "First round of hearings by Congress back a more muscular NSF," 15 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lax.' 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 lax


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


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lax


Middle English, from Latin laxus loose — more at slack


by shortening & alteration (x as symbol for -crosse)

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Time Traveler for lax

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The first known use of lax was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for lax



English Language Learners Definition of lax

disapproving : not careful enough : not strict enough


\ ˈlaks How to pronounce lax (audio) \

Kids Definition of lax

1 : not firm or tight : loose The straps were lax.
2 : not stern or strict lax discipline

Other Words from lax

laxness noun


\ ˈlaks How to pronounce lax (audio) \

Medical Definition of lax

1 of the bowels : loose sense 3
2 : having loose bowels

More from Merriam-Webster on lax

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lax

Nglish: Translation of lax for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lax for Arabic Speakers

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