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See also: läpse



From Middle French laps, from Latin lāpsus, from lābī (to slip). Doublet of lapsus.



lapse (plural lapses)

  1. A temporary failure; a slip.
    Synonyms: blooper, gaffe, thinko; see also Thesaurus:error
    memory lapse
    lapse of judgment
    lapse in security
    lapse in concentration
    • 1735, John Rogers, Nineteen Sermons on several occasions, London: W. Innys and R. Manby, →OCLC, page 108:
      Now, tho’ this Scripture may be usefully understood and apply’d by us as a Caution to guard against those Lapses and Failings to which our Infirmities daily expose us
  2. A decline or fall in standards.
    • 1751 September 10, Samuel Johnson, “No. CLV”, in The Rambler, →OCLC:
      The lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible, because it is only a mere cessation of activity
  3. A pause in continuity.
    Synonyms: hiatus, moratorium; see also Thesaurus:pause
  4. An interval of time between events.
    Synonyms: between-time, gap; see also Thesaurus:interim
    • 1850, [Alfred, Lord Tennyson], In Memoriam, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, Canto XXVI, page 43:
      Still onward winds the dreary way;
      ⁠I with it; for I long to prove
      ⁠No lapse of moons can canker Love,
      Whatever fickle tongues may say.
    • 1860, Isaac Taylor, Ultimate Civilization and Other Essays, London: Bell and Daldy, →OCLC, page 309:
      Bacon was content to wait the lapse of long centuries for his expected revenue of fame
  5. A termination of a right etc., through disuse or neglect.
  6. (meteorology) A marked decrease in air temperature with increasing altitude because the ground is warmer than the surrounding air.
  7. (law) A common-law rule that if the person to whom property is willed were to die before the testator, then the gift would be ineffective.
  8. (theology) A fall or apostasy.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



lapse (third-person singular simple present lapses, present participle lapsing, simple past and past participle lapsed)

  1. (intransitive) To fall away gradually; to subside.
    • 1841, Jonathan Swift, “A letter to the Lord High Treasurer”, in The Works of Jonathan Swift, London: Henry Washbourne, →OCLC, page 288:
      This perpetual disposition to shorten our words by retrenching the vowels, is nothing else but a tendency to lapse into the barbarity of those northern nations from whom we are descended
    • 1730, Joseph Addison, The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, Esq., volume the third, London: Jacob Tonson, →OCLC:
      Homer, however, in his characters of Vulcan and Thersites, in his story of Mars and Venus, in his behaviour of Irus and in other passages has been observed to have lapsed into the Burlesque character, and to have departed from that serious Air which seems essential to the magnificence of an Epic Poem.
  2. (intransitive) To fall into error or heresy.
  3. To slip into a bad habit that one is trying to avoid.
  4. (intransitive) To become void.
    • 1946 November and December, “The Why and The Wherefore: Abandoned Embankment at Nunhead, S.R.”, in Railway Magazine, page 392:
      The connections at Lewisham were never built, and the powers of the Act lapsed; but the spur at Nunhead was partly constructed.
  5. To fall or pass from one proprietor to another, or from the original destination, by the omission, negligence, or failure of somebody, such as a patron or legatee.
    • 1726, John Ayliffe, Parergon Juris Canonici Anglicani, London: Printed for the Author by D. Leach, →OCLC, page 116:
      ...and if the archbishop shall not fill it up within six Months ensuing, it lapses to the King, but according to the Canon Law to the Pope.




lapse c

  1. indefinite plural of laps




  1. genitive singular of laps




  1. vocative masculine singular of lāpsus