v. lapsed, laps·ing, laps·es
a. 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.
b. To deviate from a prescribed or accepted way: lapse into heresy.
c. To pass gradually or smoothly; slip: lapse into reverie.
a. To come to an end, especially gradually or temporarily: He realized that his attention had lapsed and he hadn't heard the assignment.
b. To be no longer valid or active; expire: She allowed her membership to lapse after the first year.
3. Law To cease to be available as a result of expiration, disuse, or impossibility. Used of a right or privilege.
4. To go by; elapse: Years had lapsed since we last met.
To allow to lapse.
1. The act or an instance of lapsing, as:
a. A usually minor or temporary failure; a slip: a lapse of memory; a lapse in judgment.
b. A deterioration or decline: a lapse into barbarism.
c. A moral fall: a lapse from grace.
2. A break in continuity; a pause: a lapse in the conversation.
3. A period of time; an interval: a lapse of several years between the two revolutions.
4. Law The termination of a right or privilege as a result of expiration, disuse, or impossibility.
[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.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.