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From Latin relapsus, past participle of relabi ‎(to slide back, fall back), from re- ‎(back) + labi ‎(to slip, slide, fall).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈlæps/, /ˈɹiːˌlæps/
  • Rhymes: -æps


relapse ‎(third-person singular simple present relapses, present participle relapsing, simple past and past participle relapsed)

  1. (intransitive) To fall back again; to slide or turn back into a former state or practice.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      Then we relapsed into a discomfited silence, and wished we were anywhere else. But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud, and with such a hearty enjoyment that instead of getting angry and more mortified we began to laugh ourselves, and instantly felt better.
    He has improved recently but keeps relapsing into states of utter confusion.   to relapse into a stupor, into vice, or into barbarism;  to relapse into slumber after being disturbed
  2. (intransitive, medicine, of a disease) To recur; to worsen, be aggravated.
  3. To slip or slide back physically; to turn back.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)



relapse ‎(plural relapses)

  1. The act or situation of relapsing.
    Alas! from what high hope to what relapse / Unlooked for are we fallen! — Milton.
  2. (medicine) An occasion when a person becomes ill again after a period of improvement
  3. (obsolete) One who has relapsed, or fallen back into error; a backslider.


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  1. vocative masculine singular of relāpsus