AskDefine | Define lapse

Dictionary Definition



1 a mistake resulting from inattention [syn: oversight]
2 a break or intermission in the occurrence of something; "a lapse of three weeks between letters"
3 a failure to maintain a higher state [syn: backsliding, lapsing, relapse, relapsing, reversion, reverting]


1 pass into a specified state or condition; "He sank into Nirvana" [syn: sink, pass]
2 end, at least for a long time; "The correspondence lapsed"
3 drop to a lower level, as in one's morals or standards [syn: backslide]
4 go back to bad behavior; "Those who recidivate are often minor criminals" [syn: relapse, recidivate, regress, retrogress, fall back]
5 let slip; "He lapsed his membership"
6 pass by; "three years elapsed" [syn: elapse, pass, slip by, glide by, slip away, go by, slide by, go along]

User Contributed Dictionary




From laps, from lapsus.


  1. A temporary failure; a slip.
  2. A decline or fall in standards.
  3. A pause in continuity.
  4. An interval of time between events.
  5. A termination of a right etc, through disuse or neglect.
  6. (weather) A marked decrease in air temperature with increasing altitude because the ground is warmer than the surrounding air. This condition usually occurs when skies are clear and between 1100 and 1600 hours, local time. Strong convection currents exist during lapse conditions. For chemical operations, the state is defined as unstable. This condition is normally considered the most unfavorable for the release of chemical agents. See lapse rate.
  7. A common-law rule that if the person to whom property is willed were to die before the testator, then the gift would be ineffective.

Derived terms

common law rule



  1. To suffer a lapse

Extensive Definition

Lapse and anti-lapse are complementary concepts under the law of wills, which address the disposition of property that is willed to someone who dies before the testator (the writer of the will).


Lapse is a common-law rule that if the person to whom property is left (called the beneficiary or devisee) were to die before the testator, then the gift would be ineffective. The property would instead go to the testator's residuary estate.
Under the common law, if the deceased beneficiary was intended to inherit part or all of the residuary estate, then that portion of the estate would pass by intestate succession, as though the testator had left no will. This was called the "no residue of a residue" rule, because the portion of the residuary estate that did not itself pass under the will could not be considered part of the residuary estate at all.
Under the New UPC, however, Section 2-604(b) states that, "...if the residue is devised to two or more persons, the share of a residuary devisee that fails for any reason passes to the other residuary devisee, or to other residuary devisees in proportion to the interest of each in the remaining part of the residue." Simply put, if there are two parties in the remainder and one has not survived, the entirety of the remainder goes to the surviving residuary devisee.
Note that, in jurisdictions which have adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act, or adopted the 1991 version of the Uniform Probate Code as opposed to the prior existing Uniform Probate Code, any devisee who dies within 120 hours after the testator is legally considered to have died before the testator. In such jurisdictions, only a devisee who survives more than 120 hours after the testator is considered to have met this "statutory survival test."

Anti-lapse statutes

Most common-law jurisdictions have enacted an anti-lapse statute to address this situation. The anti-lapse statute "saves" the bequest if it has been made to parties specified in the statute, usually members of the testator's immediate family, if those family members had descendants. If this is the case, then the descendants of the deceased beneficiary will inherit whatever was willed to that beneficiary. The testator can prevent the operation of an anti-lapse statute by providing that the gift will only go to the named beneficiary if that beneficiary survives the testator, or by simply stating in the will that the anti-lapse statute does not apply.
Another modification to the common law of lapse is the elimination of the "no residue of a residue" rule where multiple beneficiaries are named to inherit the residue. The modern view is that where a beneficiary was intended to inherit part of the residuary estate who predeceases the testator, and that beneficiary is not covered by the anti-lapse statute, then that beneficiary's inheritance will return to the residuary estate, to be inherited by the other beneficiaries to whom the residue has been willed.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abeyance, about-face, advance, alchemy, apostasy, apostatize, assimilation, assumption, atavism, atheism, atrocity, backing, backset, backslide, backsliding, backward deviation, backward motion, backward step, balk, be all over, be caught napping, be gone, be neglectful, be negligent, be no more, be past, become extinct, become void, becoming, bevue, blooper, blow over, blunder, boner, breach, break, bull, bungle, cadence, caesura, catabasis, catenary, cave, cave in, cease, cease-fire, cessation, change, change-over, close, closing, cock, collapse, comedown, continue, conversion, crash, crime, crime against humanity, culpa, culpable negligence, day off, deadly sin, debasement, decadence, decadency, deceleration, declension, declination, decline, decline and fall, decrescendo, decurrence, default, deformation, degeneracy, degenerate, degenerateness, degeneration, degradation, delinquency, demotion, depravation, depravedness, depreciation, dereliction, derogation, descend, descent, desertion, deteriorate, deterioration, deviate, devolution, die, die away, diminish, diminuendo, diminution, disappear, disenchantment, disregard, dive, downtrend, downturn, downward mobility, downward trend, droop, drop, dwindling, dying, ebb, effeteness, elapse, end, endure, enormity, err, error, evil, expire, fade, fading, fail, failing, failure, failure of nerve, fall, fall again into, fall astern, fall away, fall back, fall behind, fall from grace, fall into error, fall off, falling back, falling-off, false move, false step, fault, felony, flip-flop, flit, flop, flop down, flow, flow on, fluff, flump, flump down, fly, foible, founder, frailty, gap, genocide, get behind, give way, glide, gloss over, go amiss, go astray, go awry, go backwards, go behind, go by, go down, go downhill, go off, go on, go out, go wrong, goof, growth, guilty act, have a relapse, have it, have its time, have run out, heavy sin, hesitation, hiatus, hit a slump, hit rock bottom, hit the skids, hold-up, holiday, homestretch, ignore, impiety, impiousness, impropriety, inadvertence, inadvertency, inattention, indiscretion, inexpiable sin, iniquity, injury, injustice, interim, interlude, intermezzo, intermission, intermittence, interruption, interval, involution, irreligion, irreverence, jerk back, laches, lacuna, laissez-faire, lapse back, lapse from grace, lapsus calami, lapsus linguae, last, last lap, last round, last stage, laxity, laxness, layoff, let go, let ride, let slide, let slip, letup, loose thread, looseness, lose ground, lose sight of, lose track of, loss of tone, lower, lowering, lull, malefaction, malfeasance, malum, minor wrong, miscalculate, miscue, misdeed, misdemeanor, misfeasance, misstep, mistake, mortal sin, naturalization, neglect, neglectfulness, negligence, nod, nonfeasance, noninterference, nonperformance, nonrestriction, not care for, not get involved, not heed, not think, offense, omission, outrage, overlook, overlooking, oversight, pass, pass away, pass by, pass over, passage, pause, peccadillo, peccancy, permissiveness, plop, plop down, plump, plunge, poor stewardship, press on, proceed, procrastination, progress, pull back, re-formation, reach the depths, reaction, recede, recess, recession, recidivate, recidivation, recidivism, reclamation, reconversion, recreancy, recrudescence, recur to, recurrence, reduction, reentry, refluence, reflux, regress, regression, rehabilitation, reinstatement, relapse, remission, remissness, renewal, resolution, respite, rest, restitution, restoration, retreat, retroaction, retrocede, retrocession, retroflex, retroflexion, retrogradation, retrograde, retrogress, retrogression, retroversion, retrovert, retrusion, return, return to, returning, reversal, reverse, reversion, revert, revert to, reverting, revulsion, roll on, rollback, run, run down, run its course, run on, run out, sag, set, setback, settle, settle down, shift, shortcoming, sin, sin of commission, sin of omission, sinful act, sink, sink back, sink down, sinkage, slackness, sleep, slide, slide back, slight, slip, slip away, slip back, slip up, slippage, slipping back, slipup, slouch, slowdown, slump, slump down, stand-down, stay, sternway, stop, stray, stumble, submerge, submergence, subside, subsidence, suspension, swag, switch, switch-over, take for granted, terminate, throwback, tort, touch bottom, transformation, transgression, transit, transition, trespass, trip, truce, turn, turnabout, turning into, undutifulness, unrigorousness, unutterable sin, vacation, venial sin, vice, violation, volte-face, wander, wane, wear away, wear off, wrong, wrong step, yield again to
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