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[laks] /læks/
adjective, laxer, laxest.
not strict or severe; careless or negligent:
lax morals; a lax attitude toward discipline.
loose or slack; not tense, rigid, or firm:
a lax rope; a lax handshake.
not rigidly exact or precise; vague:
lax ideas.
open, loose, or not retentive, as diarrheal bowels.
(of a person) having the bowels unusually loose or open.
open or not compact; having a loosely cohering structure; porous:
lax tissue; lax texture.
Phonetics. (of a vowel) articulated with relatively relaxed tongue muscles.
Compare tense1 (def 4).
Origin of lax
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin laxus loose, slack, wide; akin to languēre to languish; cognate with Old English slæc slack1
Related forms
laxly, adverb
laxness, noun
overlax, adjective
overlaxly, adverb
overlaxness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lax
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Their discipline was lax, and many of them had left their posts, and gone off into the town.

  • We are lax, indeed, but possibly that is why we are so kind.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • If any one imagines that this law is lax, let him keep its commandment one day.

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "A little too lax, also, for the proprieties of English life," added Lady Vyner.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
  • Their bodies were so lax that their short weekly promenade to the cemetery exhausted them.


    Stephen French Whitman
British Dictionary definitions for lax


lacking firmness; not strict
lacking precision or definition
not taut
(phonetics) (of a speech sound) pronounced with little muscular effort and consequently having relatively imprecise accuracy of articulation and little temporal duration. In English the vowel i in bit is lax
(of flower clusters) having loosely arranged parts
Derived Forms
laxly, adverb
laxity, laxness, noun
Word Origin
C14 (originally used with reference to the bowels): from Latin laxus loose
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lax

c.1400, "loose" (in reference to bowels), from Latin laxus "wide, loose, open," figuratively "loose, free, wide," from PIE root *(s)leg- "to be slack, be languid" (cf. Greek legein "to leave off, stop," lagos "hare," literally "with drooping ears," lagnos "lustful, lascivious," lagaros "slack, hollow, shrunken;" Latin languere "to be faint, weary," languidis "faint, weak, dull, sluggish, languid"). Of rules, discipline, etc., attested from mid-15c.


"salmon," from Old English leax (see lox).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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