Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To fall or slide back into a former state.
  • intransitive v. To regress after partial recovery from illness.
  • intransitive v. To slip back into bad ways; backslide.
  • n. A falling back into a former state, especially after apparent improvement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To fall back again.
  • v. To recur; to worsen, be aggravated.
  • n. The act or situation of relapsing.
  • n. One who has relapsed, or fallen back into error; a backslider.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sliding or falling back, especially into a former bad state, either of body or morals; backsliding; the state of having fallen back.
  • n. One who has relapsed, or fallen back, into error; a backslider; specifically, one who, after recanting error, returns to it again.
  • intransitive v. To slip or slide back, in a literal sense; to turn back.
  • intransitive v. To slide or turn back into a former state or practice; to fall back from some condition attained; -- generally in a bad sense, as from a state of convalescence or amended condition; ; -- sometimes in a good sense.
  • intransitive v. To fall from Christian faith into paganism, heresy, or unbelief; to backslide.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To slip or slide back; return.
  • To fall back; return to a former bad state or practice; backslide: as, to relapse into vice or error after amendment.
  • To fall back from recovery or a convalescent state.
  • n. A sliding or falling back, particularly into a former evil state.
  • n. One who has refallen into vice or error; specifically, one who returns into error after having recanted it.
  • n. In medicine, the return of a disease or symptom during or directly after convalescence. See recrudescence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. deteriorate in health
  • n. a failure to maintain a higher state
  • v. go back to bad behavior

Etymologies

Middle English relapsen, to forswear, from Latin relābī, relāps-, to fall back gradually : re-, re- + lābī, to slide.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin relapsus, past participle of relabi ("to slide back, fall back"), from re- ("back") + labi ("to slip, slide, fall"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There was no looking at watches, no stifled yawning, no uneasy change of position, no watching the clock; strangers visiting the chapel listened, at first, from real interest, with a feeling that by-and-by they would relapse into their usual listlessness, but before they had time to _relapse_, behold the sermon was done.

    The Old Stone House

  • And that's the area that I'm working with now, with the offenders I'm in contact with, giving them a motive that will last, as to why they should to ahead and stay in what we call relapse prevention.

    CNN Transcript Sep 4, 2009

  • Oh, this relapse is a severe disappointment to me, and, God knows, not altogether a selfish disappointment!

    Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • Harmon emphasized her heroin use, which she characterized as a relapse that began about a month before Gouge's death that included up to six bags a day.

    News

  • It might be possible to decide soon whether a criminal has reformed or the risk of his relapse is too high with the help of brain imaging, which scientists say can be used in the justice system.

    Brain Scan Can Catch Liars in the Act | Impact Lab

  • Genetics plays role in relapse of illicit drug-seeking behavior

    Why I don't....

  • However, this response is temporary, and when you stop taking these medicines, you will soon relapse in other words, your liver enzyme levels will become abnormal again and your HCV-RNA-PCR test will become positive.

    DR. SANJIV CHOPRA’S LIVER BOOK

  • If an officer of the Reserve Corps who has been retired pursuant to these regulations and whose retired pay has been terminated on account of his recovery shall again become totally disabled and if his relapse is not due to any new intervening cause, he shall again become entitled to retired pay.

    EXECUTIVE ORDER 9897

  • What a relapse from the time when we in this world experienced the presence of Jesus Christ among us!

    Nathan Söderblom - Nobel Lecture

  • He did not again relapse into his former stupor, but it was very long before he regained his usual cheerfulness.

    Zoe: The History of Two Lives

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