- 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.
- a slip or error, often of a trivial sort; failure: a lapse of memory.
- an interval or passage of time; elapsed period: a lapse of ten minutes before the program resumed.
- a moral fall, as from rectitude or virtue.
- a fall or decline to a lower grade, condition, or degree; descent; regression: a lapse into savagery.
- the act of falling, slipping, sliding, etc., slowly or by degrees.
- a falling into disuse.
- Insurance. discontinuance of coverage resulting from nonpayment of a premium; termination of a policy.
- Law. the termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it or through failure of some contingency.
- Meteorology. lapse rate.
- Archaic. a gentle, downward flow, as of water.
- 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.
- to come to an end; stop: We let our subscription to that magazine lapse.
- to fall, slip, or sink; subside: to lapse into silence.
- to fall into disuse: The custom lapsed after a period of time.
- to deviate or abandon principles, beliefs, etc.: to lapse into heresy.
- to fall spiritually, as an apostate: to lapse from grace.
- to pass away, as time; elapse.
- Law. to become void, as a legacy to someone who dies before the testator.
- to cease being in force; terminate: Your insurance policy will lapse after 30 days.
Origin of lapse
Related Words for lapsesoffense, failing, miscue, negligence, violation, fault, indiscretion, omission, blunder, failure, transgression, error, breach, crime, oversight, sin, interruption, lull, gap, deterioration
Examples from the Web for lapses
Contemporary Examples of lapses
The former has gone so far as to take out ads apologizing for its lapses.George Will, Fox News, and the Beginning of an Ebola Conspiracy
October 22, 2014
But when a financial model depends on millions of users, and mere algorithms patrolling the gates, lapses are inevitable.Facebook Apologizes For, but Doesn’t Retract, Discriminatory ‘Real Name’ Policy
October 1, 2014
As enraging as these lapses are, they should not come as a surprise.The Worst Place in the World for MH370 to Go Missing
April 5, 2014
All of this has become so familiar that it lapses from our minds, it's just the way things are.How the 1% Rules
July 13, 2012
If all this were only hypocrisy, Gingrich might legitimately expect voters to shrug off his lapses of decency and humanity.Republican Debate: Why Newt Gingrich’s Performance Should Disqualify Him
January 21, 2012
Historical Examples of lapses
Roma, face downward, heard these sounds in the lapses of a terrible memory.The Eternal City
Perhaps, however, you too have been guilty of these lapses, reader?The Book-Hunter at Home
P. B. M. Allan
There is nothing vague or disconcerting in his work, no lapses of rhetoric.Adventures in the Arts
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
- 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
- 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
Word Origin for lapse
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.