verb (used without object), lapsed, laps·ing.

Origin of lapse

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
Related formslaps·er, nounun·laps·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lapses

Contemporary Examples of lapses

Historical Examples of lapses

  • Roma, face downward, heard these sounds in the lapses of a terrible memory.

  • Perhaps, however, you too have been guilty of these lapses, reader?

  • There is nothing vague or disconcerting in his work, no lapses of rhetoric.

    Adventures in the Arts

    Marsden Hartley

  • I knew my lapses too well and was too considerate of your happiness to say ‘yes.’

    Penny of Top Hill Trail

    Belle Kanaris Maniates

  • She had felt that, whatever his lapses, the years had made her necessary to him.

    Long Live the King

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for lapses



a drop in standard of an isolated or temporary naturea lapse of justice
a break in occurrence, usage, etca lapse of five weeks between letters
a gradual decline or a drop to a lower degree, condition, or statea lapse from high office
a moral fall
law the termination of some right, interest, or privilege, as by neglecting to exercise it or through failure of some contingency
insurance the termination of coverage following a failure to pay the premiums

verb (intr)

to drop in standard or fail to maintain a norm
to decline gradually or fall in status, condition, etc
to be discontinued, esp through negligence or other failure
(usually foll by into) to drift or slide (into a condition)to lapse into sleep
(often foll by from) to turn away (from beliefs or norms)
law (of a devise or bequest) to become void, as on the beneficiary's predeceasing the testator
(of time) to slip away
Derived Formslapsable or lapsible, adjectivelapsed, adjectivelapser, noun

Word Origin for lapse

C15: from Latin lāpsus error, from lābī to glide
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

Word Origin and History for lapses



mid-15c., "elapsing of time, expiration;" also "temporary forfeiture of a legal right," from Middle French laps "lapse," from Latin lapsus "a slipping and falling, flight (of time), falling into error," from labi "to slip, glide, fall." Meaning "moral transgression, sin" is c.1500; that of "slip of the memory" is 1520s; that of "a falling away from one's faith" is from 1650s.



early 15c., said to be from lapse (n.) or from Latin lapsare "to lose one's footing." Related: Lapsed; lapses; lapsing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper