View synonyms for lapse


[ laps ]


  1. an accidental or temporary decline or deviation from an expected or accepted condition or state; a temporary falling or slipping from a previous standard:

    a lapse of justice.

  2. a slip or error, often of a trivial sort; failure:

    a lapse of memory.

  3. an interval or passage of time; elapsed period:

    a lapse of ten minutes before the program resumed.

  4. a moral fall, as from rectitude or virtue.
  5. a fall or decline to a lower grade, condition, or degree; descent; regression:

    a lapse into savagery.

  6. the act of falling, slipping, sliding, etc., slowly or by degrees.
  7. a falling into disuse.
  8. Insurance. discontinuance of coverage resulting from nonpayment of a premium; termination of a policy.
  9. Law. the termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it or through failure of some contingency.
  10. Meteorology. lapse rate.
  11. Archaic. a gentle, downward flow, as of water.

verb (used without object)

, lapsed, laps·ing.
  1. to fall or deviate from a previous standard; fail to maintain a normative level:

    Toward the end of the book the author lapsed into bad prose.

  2. to come to an end; stop:

    We let our subscription to that magazine lapse.

  3. to fall, slip, or sink; subside:

    to lapse into silence.

  4. to fall into disuse:

    The custom lapsed after a period of time.

  5. to deviate or abandon principles, beliefs, etc.:

    to lapse into heresy.

  6. to fall spiritually, as an apostate:

    to lapse from grace.

  7. to pass away, as time; elapse.
  8. Law. to become void, as a legacy to someone who dies before the testator.
  9. to cease being in force; terminate:

    Your insurance policy will lapse after 30 days.


/ læps /


  1. a drop in standard of an isolated or temporary nature

    a lapse of justice

  2. a break in occurrence, usage, etc

    a lapse of five weeks between letters

  3. a gradual decline or a drop to a lower degree, condition, or state

    a lapse from high office

  4. a moral fall
  5. law the termination of some right, interest, or privilege, as by neglecting to exercise it or through failure of some contingency
  6. insurance the termination of coverage following a failure to pay the premiums


  1. to drop in standard or fail to maintain a norm
  2. to decline gradually or fall in status, condition, etc
  3. to be discontinued, esp through negligence or other failure
  4. usually foll by into to drift or slide (into a condition)

    to lapse into sleep

  5. often foll by from to turn away (from beliefs or norms)
  6. law (of a devise or bequest) to become void, as on the beneficiary's predeceasing the testator
  7. (of time) to slip away

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Derived Forms

  • lapsed, adjective
  • ˈlapser, noun
  • ˈlapsable, adjective

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Other Words From

  • lapser noun
  • un·lapsing adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of lapse1

1520–30; < Latin lāpsus an error, slipping, failing, equivalent to lāb ( ī ) to slide, slip, fall, make a mistake + -sus, for -tus suffix of v. action

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Word History and Origins

Origin of lapse1

C15: from Latin lāpsus error, from lābī to glide

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Example Sentences

The defensive lapses came because of missed assignments and some trouble in transition.

According to sources who heard the presentation, Wyler used no names and only titles in discussing the management lapses in editing “The Mad, Mad World of Niche Sports.”

Despite his decision to delay signing the bill over last-minute objections, the Labor Department said this week that it does not expect people claiming certain federal unemployment benefits to experience a lapse in payments.

From Axios

Only through lawsuits — and people like being willing to come forward — can the public get a true picture of these lapses in care.

Budget experts said the impact of that lapse would almost certainly be minimal if Congress can approve the government funding deal by the end of the weekend.

I shut my eyes yet felt aware of the garden at my elbow, the blooms opening as if in time-lapse, the stalks lengthening.

That lapse was partly mitigated by the rise of blog­ging, which encouraged user-generated content.

This trend will only accelerate as whites lapse at higher rates than nonwhites.

Today no one in either party would accept such a benign explanation for a lapse in security, nor should they.

Rich defendant, revolving door attorneys, last-minute plea deals… cue the brooding theme music and time-lapse photography.

This unreasoning, feminine obstinacy so wrought upon him that he permitted himself a smile and a lapse into irony and banter.

No notice being taken of the taps, the unseen visitor, after a short lapse, ventured to open the door and peep in.

He felt vexed with himself for his lapse from good manners, yet hardly able to account for it.

That has been left for us to discover, and that glamour in which we see their age is one afforded only by the lapse of time.

In the intervals which must occur between the courses, do not appear to be conscious of the lapse of time.





Lapsang Souchonglapsed