A lapse is a temporary slip, failure or break in continuity. If you’re normally polite, a lapse in manners could make you forget to say “please” and “thank you.”

First used to imply a “slip of the memory,” the noun lapse evolved in the sixteenth century from the Latin lapsus, meaning “a slipping and falling, falling into error.” The connotation of “a moral slip” developed later, and the verb form came into existence even later than that. Behaving badly one day when you're usually on your best behavior is a lapse; behaving badly again after a short stint being well-mannered means you're lapsing back into nasty old habits.

Definitions of lapse
  1. verb
    drop to a lower level, as in one's morals or standards
    synonyms: backslide
  2. verb
    go back to bad behavior
    synonyms: fall back, recidivate, regress, relapse, retrogress
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    type of:
    regress, retrovert, return, revert, turn back
    go back to a previous state
  3. verb
    pass into a specified state or condition
    synonyms: pass, sink
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    type of:
    go or proceed from one point to another
  4. verb
    let slip
    “He lapsed his membership”
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    type of:
    forego, forfeit, forgo, give up, throw overboard, waive
    lose ( or lose the right to ( by some error, offense, or crime
  5. verb
    pass by
    synonyms: elapse, glide by, go along, go by, pass, slide by, slip away, slip by
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    fell, fly, vanish
    pass away rapidly
    type of:
    advance, go on, march on, move on, pass on, progress
    move forward, also in the metaphorical sense
  6. noun
    a failure to maintain a higher state
    synonyms: backsliding, lapsing, relapse, relapsing, reversion, reverting
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    habitual relapse into crime
    type of:
    an act that fails
  7. noun
    a mistake resulting from inattention
    synonyms: oversight
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    type of:
    error, fault, mistake
    a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention
  8. noun
    a break or intermission in the occurrence of something
    “a lapse of three weeks between letters”
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    type of:
    break, intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
    a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something
  9. verb
    end, at least for a long time
    “The correspondence lapsed
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    type of:
    cease, end, finish, stop, terminate
    have an end, in a temporal, spatial, or quantitative sense; either spatial or metaphorical
Word Family

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