1520s, "slip of the memory," from M.Fr. laps "lapse," from L. lapsus "a slipping and falling, flight (of time), falling into error," from labi "to slip, glide, fall." Meaning "a moral slip" is from 1580s; that of "a falling away from one's faith" is from 1650s. Legal sense of "termination of a right or privilege" first recorded 1560s. The verb is first attested 1640s. Related: Lapsed; lapses.