lapse

lapse n
1 slip, *error, mistake, blunder, faux pas, bull, howler, boner
Analogous words: *offense, sin, vice, crime: *fault, failing, frailty, foible: transgression, *breach, violation, trespass
2 relapse, backsliding (see under LAPSE vb)
Analogous words: *deterioration, decline, declension, decadence, degeneration, devolution: retrograding or retrogradation, receding or recession (see corresponding verbs at RECEDE): retrogressiveness or retrogression, regressiveness or regression (see corresponding adjectives at BACKWARD)
Contrasted words: advance, progress (see under ADVANCE vb): *development, evolution
lapse vb Lapse, relapse, backslide and their corresponding nouns, lapse, relapse, backsliding, are comparable when they mean to fall back into a state or condition from which one has raised oneself or has been raised, or the act or state of one who has so fallen back. As distinguished from decline, degenerate, and deteriorate, these verbs do not necessarily imply the reversion of a process or development or the gradual losing and the inevitable loss of a valuable quality (as strength, power, or influence) but they do distinctively imply a failure to continue without break a course of improvement and a return, often quickly effected but not always irreparable, to an earlier bad or lower state or condition. Both lapse and relapse basically imply a sliding or slipping but they are increasingly divergent in their applications and connotations.
Lapse usually presupposes reformation in manners, morals, or habits, or the acceptance of a high standard (as of rectitude, accuracy, or accomplishment). It need not imply culpability or weakness, for it often suggests no more than a sudden failure of the memory or the influence of habit or tradition or the pressure of an overwhelming emotion
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it is easy for the person who has acquired good manners by effort to lapse into old ways when he is not on guard

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only when she was strongly moved did she lapse into the dialect she spoke in her youth

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the moment his attention is relaxed . . . he will lapse into bad Shakespearean verse— T. S. Eliot

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whatever rhythmical or technical lapses they may contain, the conception is throughout that of a great musician— Edward Sackville-West

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When culpability is strongly implied, the word still, in comparison to the other terms in the group, often connotes extenuating circumstances; it is therefore the fitting choice when the context indicates such circumstances
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he constantly fought his tendency to lapse into easygoing ways

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the natives lapsed back into accustomed vices— Billington

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in estimating a man's place in the scale of perfection ... the moral judgment, not withholding condemnation of a particular lapse, may not condemn the man wholly for it— Alexander

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Relapse presupposes definite improvement or an advance (as toward health or toward a higher physical, moral, or intellectual state) and it implies a complete and often dangerous reversal of direction; thus, one whose improvement in a serious illness has been marked may be said to relapse, or suffer a relapse, when his condition becomes definitely worse; a reformed thief is said to relapse when he returns to his old life
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the Arabs were once the continuators of the Greek tradition; they produced men of science. They have relapsed . . . into prescientific fatalism, with its attendant incuriosity and apathy— Huxley

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man's eternal tendency to relapse into apathy and atavism— Stewart

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his firmness of mind soon relapsed into a cankerous intolerance— Cranston

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the corruptions and vices which accompany the horribly swift relapse of a culture into barbarism— Edmund Fuller

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Backslide and backsliding also imply a reversal in direction of one who has been going forward, but unlike relapse, which is in many ways their close synonym, they are restricted in their reference largely to moral and religious lapses. They therefore often suggest unfaithfulness to one's duty or allegiance or to principles once professed
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did not I . . . backslide into intemperance and folly— Marryat

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this is not to say that backslidings fail to occur; on the contrary backslidings normally follow any strenuous moral experience—G. W. Allport

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Analogous words: revert, *return: slip, *slide: deteriorate, degenerate, decline (see corresponding nouns at DETERIORATION): *descend: *recede, retrograde
Contrasted words: progress, *advance: develop, *mature

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • lapse — 1 / laps/ n: a termination or failure due to events, neglect, or time: as a: the failure of a bequest (as because the intended recipient dies before the testator) compare anti lapse statute b: the termination of an insurance policy because of… …   Law dictionary

  • Lapse — (l[a^]ps), n. [L. lapsus, fr. labi, p. p. lapsus, to slide, to fall: cf. F. laps. See {Sleep}.] 1. A gliding, slipping, or gradual falling; an unobserved or imperceptible progress or passing away,; restricted usually to immaterial things, or to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lapse — Lapse, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Lapsed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Lapsing}.] 1. To pass slowly and smoothly downward, backward, or away; to slip downward, backward, or away; to glide; mostly restricted to figurative uses. [1913 Webster] A tendency to lapse… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lapse — [n1] mistake blunder, breach, bungle, crime, error, failing, failure, fault, flub, foible, frailty, gaff, goof, goof up*, indiscretion, miscue, negligence, offense, omission, oversight, screw up*, sin, slip, slip up, transgression, trespass,… …   New thesaurus

  • Lapse — Lapse, v. t. 1. To let slip; to permit to devolve on another; to allow to pass. [1913 Webster] An appeal may be deserted by the appellant s lapsing the term of law. Ayliffe. [1913 Webster] 2. To surprise in a fault or error; hence, to surprise or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lapse — ► NOUN 1) a brief failure of concentration, memory, or judgement. 2) a decline from previously high standards. 3) an interval of time. 4) Law the termination of a right or privilege through disuse or failure to follow appropriate procedures. ►… …   English terms dictionary

  • lapse — [laps] n. [L lapsus, a fall: see LAP1] 1. a slip of the tongue, pen, or memory; small error; fault 2. a) a falling away from a moral standard; moral slip b) a falling or slipping into a lower or worse condition, esp. for a short time 3 …   English World dictionary

  • lapse — relapse …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • lapse — ▪ I. lapse lapse 1 [læps] verb [intransitive] 1. COMMERCE if a contract, agreement, or offer lapses, it ends because an agreed time limit has passed: • The customer has the right to exercise the option or allow the option to lapse. • There are… …   Financial and business terms

  • lapse — lapse1 [læps] n [Date: 1300 1400; : Latin; Origin: lapsus, from labi to slip ] 1.) a short period of time during which you fail to do something well or properly, often caused by not being careful momentary/temporary/occasional etc lapse ▪ Despite …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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