Lapse (?), n. [L. lapsus, fr. labi, p. p. lapsus, to slide, to fall: cf. F. laps. See Sleep.]


A gliding, slipping, or gradual falling; an unobserved or imperceptible progress or passing away,; -- restricted usually to immaterial things, or to figurative uses.

The lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible.

Bacon was content to wait the lapse of long centuries for his expected revenue of fame.
I. Taylor.


A slip; an error; a fault; a failing in duty; a slight deviation from truth or rectitude.

To guard against those lapses and failings to which our infirmities daily expose us.

3. 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.

4. Theol.

A fall or apostasy.


© Webster 1913.

Lapse, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Lapsed (#); p. pr. & vb. n. Lapsing.]


To pass slowly and smoothly downward, backward, or away; to slip downward, backward, or away; to glide; -- mostly restricted to figurative uses.

A tendency to lapse into the barbarity of those northern nations from whom we are descended.

Homer, in his characters of Vulcan and Thersites, has lapsed into the burlesque character.


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.

To lapse in fullness
Is sorer than to lie for need.

3. Law (a)

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.


To become ineffectual or void; to fall.

If the archbishop shall not fill it up within six months ensuing, it lapses to the king.


© Webster 1913.

Lapse, v. t.


To let slip; to permit to devolve on another; to allow to pass.

An appeal may be deserted by the appellant's lapsing the term of law.


To surprise in a fault or error; hence, to surprise or catch, as an offender.


For which, if be lapsed in this place,
I shall pay dear.


© Webster 1913.

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