Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To fall from a previous level or standard, as of accomplishment, quality, or conduct.
  • intransitive verb To deviate from a prescribed or accepted way.
  • intransitive verb To pass gradually or smoothly; slip.
  • intransitive verb To come to an end, especially gradually or temporarily.
  • intransitive verb To be no longer valid or active; expire.
  • intransitive verb Law To cease to be available as a result of expiration, disuse, or impossibility. Used of a right or privilege.
  • intransitive verb To go by; elapse.
  • intransitive verb To allow to lapse.
  • noun The act or an instance of lapsing, as.
  • noun A usually minor or temporary failure; a slip.
  • noun A deterioration or decline.
  • noun A moral fall.
  • noun A break in continuity; a pause.
  • noun A period of time; an interval.
  • noun Law The termination of a right or privilege as a result of expiration, disuse, or impossibility.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • To be found lapsing or erring.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To pass slowly and smoothly downward, backward, or away; to slip downward, backward, or away; to glide; -- mostly restricted to figurative uses.
  • intransitive verb 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 verb 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 verb To become ineffectual or void; to fall.
  • transitive verb To let slip; to permit to devolve on another; to allow to pass.
  • transitive verb obsolete To surprise in a fault or error; hence, to surprise or catch, as an offender.
  • noun A gliding, slipping, or gradual falling; an unobserved or imperceptible progress or passing away,; -- restricted usually to immaterial things, or to figurative uses.
  • noun A slip; an error; a fault; a failing in duty; a slight deviation from truth or rectitude.
  • noun (Law) 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.
  • noun (Theol.) A fall or apostasy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A temporary failure; a slip.
  • noun A decline or fall in standards.
  • noun A pause in continuity.
  • noun An interval of time between events.
  • noun A termination of a right etc, through disuse or neglect.
  • noun weather 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.
  • noun 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.
  • verb intransitive To fall away gradually; to subside
  • verb intransitive To fall into error or heresy
  • verb To slip into a bad habit that one is trying to avoid.
  • verb intransitive To become void

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

  • verb pass into a specified state or condition

Etymologies

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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

  • The mayor is apologizing, saying he's deeply sorry for what he calls a lapse of judgment.

    CNN Transcript Feb 1, 2007

  • Zimbabwe protested to the British government over what it called a lapse in security when President Robert Mugabe was mobbed by gay activists during a visit to London, British officials said

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • You know you let your title lapse and now you're trying to evade the law.

    Rimrock Jones

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    Fort Mill Times: HOMEPAGE

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    The News Tribune - Tacoma - - HOMEPAGE

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    timesOnline: Home RSS feed

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when US forces leave.

    Latest News - Yahoo!7 News

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    ajc.com - News

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    Fort Mill Times: HOMEPAGE

  • On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.

    The News Tribune Blogs

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