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

  • intransitive v. To fall from a previous level or standard, as of accomplishment, quality, or conduct: lapse into bad habits; a team that lapsed into mediocrity halfway through the season.
  • intransitive v. To deviate from a prescribed or accepted way: lapse into heresy.
  • intransitive v. To pass gradually or smoothly; slip: lapse into reverie.
  • intransitive v. To come to an end, especially gradually or temporarily: He realized that his attention had lapsed and he hadn't heard the assignment.
  • intransitive v. To be no longer valid or active; expire: She allowed her membership to lapse after the first year.
  • intransitive v. Law To pass to another through neglect or omission. Used of a right or privilege, a benefice, or an estate.
  • intransitive v. To go by; elapse: Years had lapsed since we last met.
  • transitive v. To allow to lapse.
  • n. The act or an instance of lapsing, as:
  • n. A usually minor or temporary failure; a slip: a lapse of memory; a lapse in judgment.
  • n. A deterioration or decline: a lapse into barbarism.
  • n. A moral fall: a lapse from grace.
  • n. A break in continuity; a pause: a lapse in the conversation.
  • n. A period of time; an interval: a lapse of several years between the two revolutions.
  • n. Law The termination of a right or privilege through disuse, neglect, or death.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A temporary failure; a slip.
  • n. A decline or fall in standards.
  • n. A pause in continuity.
  • n. An interval of time between events.
  • n. A termination of a right etc, through disuse or neglect.
  • n. A marked decrease in air temperature with increasing altitude because the ground is warmer than the surrounding air. This condition usually occurs when skies are clear and between 1100 and 1600 hours, local time. Strong convection currents exist during lapse conditions. For chemical operations, the state is defined as unstable. This condition is normally considered the most unfavorable for the release of chemical agents. See lapse rate.
  • n. 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.
  • v. To fall away gradually; to subside
  • v. To fall into error or heresy
  • v. To slip into a bad habit that one is trying to avoid.
  • v. To become void

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A gliding, slipping, or gradual falling; an unobserved or imperceptible progress or passing away,; -- restricted usually to immaterial things, or to figurative uses.
  • n. A slip; an error; a fault; a failing in duty; a slight deviation from truth or rectitude.
  • n. The termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it within the limited time, or through failure of some contingency; hence, the devolution of a right or privilege.
  • n. A fall or apostasy.
  • intransitive v. To pass slowly and smoothly downward, backward, or away; to slip downward, backward, or away; to glide; -- mostly restricted to figurative uses.
  • intransitive v. To slide or slip in moral conduct; to fail in duty; to fall from virtue; to deviate from rectitude; to commit a fault by inadvertence or mistake.
  • intransitive v.
  • intransitive v. To fall or pass from one proprietor to another, or from the original destination, by the omission, negligence, or failure of some one, as a patron, a legatee, etc.
  • intransitive v. To become ineffectual or void; to fall.
  • transitive v. To let slip; to permit to devolve on another; to allow to pass.
  • transitive v. To surprise in a fault or error; hence, to surprise or catch, as an offender.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fall; slip; slide; glide; sink; pass slowly, silently, or by degrees.
  • To slip in conduct; fail in duty; deviate from rectitude; commit a fault; slip or fall into error or sin.
  • To fall or pass from one proprietor to another, by the omission, negligence, or failure of some one, as a patron, a legatee, etc.
  • To pass or fall away; fail; specifically, in law, to become ineffectual or void: as, the benefice lapsed; the legacy lapsed.
  • To cause or suffer to slide; suffer to fail or become void or ineffectual; let slip.
  • To be found lapsing or erring.
  • n. A falling; a continued falling off or away; a passing or gliding along or away: as, the lapse of flowing water; the lapse of time.
  • n. A gradual fall or descent; passage downward, physical or moral; a passing from a higher to a lower place, state, or condition: as, a lapse from integrity; a lapse into sin.
  • n. A failure or miscarriage through some fault, slip, or negligence; hence, a slip or fault in general; a mistake from carelessness or inattention: as, a lapse of justice; a lapse of title to an estate; a lapse of the tongue or of grammar.
  • n. In English ecclesiastical law, the failure or omission of a patron to present a clerk to a benefice within the time allowed him, six months from avoidance, in which event the benefice is said to be lapsed or in lapse, and the right of presentation passes to the bishop.

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

  • v. pass into a specified state or condition
  • v. drop to a lower level, as in one's morals or standards
  • v. end, at least for a long time
  • n. a break or intermission in the occurrence of something
  • n. a mistake resulting from inattention
  • v. let slip
  • v. go back to bad behavior
  • n. a failure to maintain a higher state
  • v. pass by


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

Middle English lapsen, to deviate from the normal, from laps, lapse of time, sin (from Old French, lapse of time, from Latin lāpsus, from past participle of lābī, to lapse) and from Latin lāpsāre, frequentative of lābī, to lapse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French laps, from Latin lapsus, from labi ("to slip").



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