Pronunciation: (laps), [key]
—n., v., lapsed, laps•ing.
1. 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.
2. a slip or error, often of a trivial sort; failure: a lapse of memory.
3. an interval or passage of time; elapsed period: a lapse of ten minutes before the program resumed.
4. a moral fall, as from rectitude or virtue.
5. a fall or decline to a lower grade, condition, or degree; descent; regression: a lapse into savagery.
6. the act of falling, slipping, sliding, etc., slowly or by degrees.
7. a falling into disuse.
8. Insurance.discontinuance of coverage resulting from nonpayment of a premium; termination of a policy.
9. Law.the termination of a right or privilege through neglect to exercise it or through failure of some contingency.
10. Meteorol.See lapse rate.
11. Archaic.a gentle, downward flow, as of water.
1. 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.
2. to come to an end; stop: We let our subscription to that magazine lapse.
3. to fall, slip, or sink; subside: to lapse into silence.
4. to fall into disuse: The custom lapsed after a period of time.
5. to deviate or abandon principles, beliefs, etc.: to lapse into heresy.
6. to fall spiritually, as an apostate: to lapse from grace.
7. to pass away, as time; elapse.
8. Law.to become void, as a legacy to someone who dies before the testator.
9. to cease being in force; terminate: Your insurance policy will lapse after 30 days.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.