an accidental or temporary decline or deviation from an expected or accepted condition or state; a temporary falling or slipping from a previous standard: a lapse of justice.
a slip or error, often of a trivial sort; failure: a lapse of memory.
an interval or passage of time; elapsed period: a lapse of ten minutes before the program resumed.
a moral fall, as from rectitude or virtue.
a fall or decline to a lower grade, condition, or degree; descent; regression: a lapse into savagery.
the act of falling, slipping, sliding, etc., slowly or by degrees.
a falling into disuse.
Insurance. discontinuance of coverage resulting from nonpayment of a premium; termination of a policy.
Law. the termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it or through failure of some contingency.
Meteorology, lapse rate.
Archaic. a gentle, downward flow, as of water.
verb (used without object), lapsed, lapsing.
to fall or deviate from a previous standard; fail to maintain a normative level: Toward the end of the book the author lapsed into bad prose.
to come to an end; stop: We let our subscription to that magazine lapse.
to fall, slip, or sink; subside: to lapse into silence.
to fall into disuse: The custom lapsed after a period of time.
to deviate or abandon principles, beliefs, etc.: to lapse into heresy.
to fall spiritually, as an apostate: to lapse from grace.
to pass away, as time; elapse.
Law. to become void, as a legacy to someone who dies before the testator.
to cease being in force; terminate: Your insurance policy will lapse after 30 days.

1520–30; < Latin lāpsus an error, slipping, failing, equivalent to lāb(ī) to slide, slip, fall, make a mistake + -sus, for -tus suffix of v. action

lapser, noun
unlapsing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To lapses
World English Dictionary
lapse (læps)
1.  a drop in standard of an isolated or temporary nature: a lapse of justice
2.  a break in occurrence, usage, etc: a lapse of five weeks between letters
3.  a gradual decline or a drop to a lower degree, condition, or state: a lapse from high office
4.  a moral fall
5.  law the termination of some right, interest, or privilege, as by neglecting to exercise it or through failure of some contingency
6.  insurance the termination of coverage following a failure to pay the premiums
7.  to drop in standard or fail to maintain a norm
8.  to decline gradually or fall in status, condition, etc
9.  to be discontinued, esp through negligence or other failure
10.  (usually foll by into) to drift or slide (into a condition): to lapse into sleep
11.  (often foll by from) to turn away (from beliefs or norms)
12.  law (of a devise or bequest) to become void, as on the beneficiary's predeceasing the testator
13.  (of time) to slip away
[C15: from Latin lāpsus error, from lābī to glide]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He never inclines to the theory that all knowledge arises out of sensation, and yet he never lapses into mysticism.
So he lapses into a dream, the undying wonderful dream of his life.
The reasons for memory lapses are usually much less dire than suspected.
There have been several high-profile government cyber security lapses in the
  past few years.
Related Words
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