A relapse is a decline, especially of someone's health. If your grandmother survived cancer only to have it return two years later, you could say she suffered a relapse.

Relapse implies that someone has recovered from an illness and slid back into a worse state, like when you are getting over a cold but then you suddenly feel bad all over again. Unwanted behavior can also be described this way; if you find yourself biting your nails again, it's a nail-biting relapse. The Latin word relabi is the root of relapse, slip back.

Definitions of relapse

v deteriorate in health

“he relapsed
get worse
bounce back, get over, get well
improve in health
Type of:
change state, turn
undergo a transformation or a change of position or action

v go back to bad behavior

fall back, lapse, recidivate, regress, retrogress
Type of:
regress, retrovert, return, revert, turn back
go back to a previous state

n a failure to maintain a higher state

backsliding, lapse, lapsing, relapsing, reversion, reverting
habitual relapse into crime
Type of:
an act that fails

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