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

  • intransitive v. To fail to keep up a pace; straggle.
  • intransitive v. To proceed or develop with comparative slowness: The electric current lags behind the voltage.
  • intransitive v. To fail, weaken, or slacken gradually; flag.
  • intransitive v. Games To determine the order of play in billiards by successively hitting the cue ball against the end rail, the ball rebounding closest to the head rail indicating the player to shoot first.
  • transitive v. To cause to hang back or fall behind.
  • transitive v. To shoot, throw, or pitch (a coin, for example) at a mark.
  • n. The act, process, or condition of lagging.
  • n. One that lags.
  • n. A condition of slowness or retardation.
  • n. The extent or duration of lagging: "He wondered darkly at how great a lag there was between his thinking and his actions” ( Thomas Wolfe).
  • n. An interval between events or phenomena considered together.
  • n. A barrel stave.
  • n. A strip, as of wood, that forms a part of the covering for a cylindrical object.
  • transitive v. To furnish or cover with lags.
  • transitive v. To arrest.
  • transitive v. To send to prison.
  • n. A convict.
  • n. An ex-convict.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. late
  • n. A gap, a delay; an interval created by something not keeping up; a latency.
  • n. Delay; latency.
  • n. a prisoner, a criminal.
  • n. A minigame of billiards, where the order of the play is determined by testing who can get a ball closest to the bottom rail by shooting it onto the end rail.
  • v. to fail to keep up (the pace), to fall behind
  • v. to cover (for example, pipes) with felt strips or similar material
  • v. To transport as a punishment for crime.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Coming tardily after or behind; slow; tardy.
  • adj. Last; long-delayed; -- obsolete, except in the phrase lag end.
  • adj. Last made; hence, made of refuse; inferior.
  • n. One who lags; that which comes in last.
  • n. The fag-end; the rump; hence, the lowest class.
  • n. The amount of retardation of anything, as of a valve in a steam engine, in opening or closing.
  • n. A stave of a cask, drum, etc.
  • n. See Graylag.
  • n. The failing behind or retardation of one phenomenon with respect to another to which it is closely related.
  • n. One transported for a crime.
  • intransitive v. To walk or more slowly; to stay or fall behind; to linger or loiter.
  • transitive v. To cause to lag; to slacken.
  • transitive v. To cover, as the cylinder of a steam engine, with lags. See Lag, n., 4.
  • transitive v. To transport for crime.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Slow; tardy; late; coming after or behind.
  • Long delayed; last.
  • n. One who or that which comes behind; the last comer; one who hangs back.
  • n. The lowest class; the rump; the fag-end.
  • n. In mech., the amount of retardation of some movement: as, the lag of the valve of a steam-engine.
  • n. In machinery, one of the strips which form the periphery of a wooden drum, the casing of a carding-machine, or the lagging or covering of a steam-boiler or-cylinder.
  • n. An old convict.
  • To move slowly; fall behind; hang back; loiter; linger.
  • To slacken.
  • To clothe, as a steam-boiler, to prevent radiation of heat.
  • To bring into the hands of justice; cause to be punished for a crime.
  • To take; steal.
  • n. A term of hard labor or transportation.
  • n. In electricity, the displacement of phase of an electric wave back, or behind (in time), to another electric wave: used mainly with regard to alternating-current circuits.
  • n. See lagging of the tides, under lagging.
  • n. The angle corresponding to the lag of the tides; the hour-angle between the lunar transit and the flood-tide; the shifting of the earth's magnetic system from a symmetrical distribution about the noon meridian into the observed eccentric position.

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

  • v. hang (back) or fall (behind) in movement, progress, development, etc.
  • n. the act of slowing down or falling behind
  • v. lock up or confine, in or as in a jail
  • v. cover with lagging to prevent heat loss
  • n. one of several thin slats of wood forming the sides of a barrel or bucket
  • n. the time between one event, process, or period and another
  • v. throw or pitch at a mark, as with coins


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

From earlier lag, last person, from Middle English lag-, last (in lagmon, last man), perhaps of Scandinavian origin.
Probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish lagg; see leu- in Indo-European roots.
Origin unknown.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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  • Gal in reverse.

    November 3, 2007

  • Contronymic in the sense: fall behind vs. advance (as a putt or coin).

    January 27, 2007