• synonyms


adjective, lax·er, lax·est.
  1. not strict or severe; careless or negligent: lax morals; a lax attitude toward discipline.
  2. loose or slack; not tense, rigid, or firm: a lax rope; a lax handshake.
  3. not rigidly exact or precise; vague: lax ideas.
  4. open, loose, or not retentive, as diarrheal bowels.
  5. (of a person) having the bowels unusually loose or open.
  6. open or not compact; having a loosely cohering structure; porous: lax tissue; lax texture.
  7. Phonetics. (of a vowel) articulated with relatively relaxed tongue muscles.Compare tense1(def 4).
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Origin of lax

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin laxus loose, slack, wide; akin to languēre to languish; cognate with Old English slæc slack1
Related formslax·ly, adverblax·ness, nouno·ver·lax, adjectiveo·ver·lax·ly, adverbo·ver·lax·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for laxly

Historical Examples

  • The others make an unfavourable impression because they are so laxly executed.

    The Clyde Mystery

    Andrew Lang

  • I was pleased, however, to see that I was so lightly and laxly guarded.

  • They held hands for a time, laxly, till one loosed, and then both swung limply back to their places.

  • In both cases we have a laxly articulated short sound, and a diphthong in which the tongue rises towards the end.

  • The word properly applies to Muhammadans only, but is often laxly used to include Hindoo ascetics.

British Dictionary definitions for laxly


  1. lacking firmness; not strict
  2. lacking precision or definition
  3. not taut
  4. 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
  5. (of flower clusters) having loosely arranged parts
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Derived Formslaxly, adverblaxity or 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

Word Origin and History for laxly



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

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper