Share this entry
relapse Syllabification: re·lapse

Definition of relapse in English:


Pronunciation: /rəˈlaps/
[no object]
1(Of someone suffering from a disease) suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
Example sentences
  • One patient relapsed upon discontinuation of clarithromycin therapy but has since responded to re-initiation of treatment.
  • Thirteen patients relapsed after positive response to therapy and developed tumors at pre-existing or new sites within the body.
  • All patients were cured ultimately and no patients relapsed during six months of follow up.
get ill/worse again, have/suffer a relapse, deteriorate, degenerate, take a turn for the worse
1.1 (relapse into) Return to (a less active or a worse state): he relapsed into silence
More example sentences
  • The main goal of this intervention is to keep him motivated and to avoid a relapse into a less active lifestyle.
  • Let it be hoped that we can refrain from relapsing into the bad old habits once the dreaded epidemic is over, so a new Shanghai with a new outlook will emerge in the long run.
  • But after three decades of lull, it has started relapsing into anarchy and violence.
revert, lapse;
regress, retrogress, slip back, slide back, degenerate


Pronunciation: /ˈrēˌlaps/
Back to top  
A deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement: he suffered a relapse of schizophrenia after a car crash
More example sentences
  • However, once treatment was stopped, there were no differences in the rates of relapses and new brain lesions between the two groups.
  • In salmonella infections relapses of enteritis or bacteraemia are common.
  • Many of these patients also experienced a relapse of their psychotic illness after the pregnancy.
deterioration, turn for the worse, setback


Example sentences
  • Number of relapses increased the likelihood of subsequent relapses, but there were no characteristic differences between one-time relapsers and multiple relapsers.
  • A systematic review of 19 randomised trials and 3765 patients found that 33% of naive patients and 49% of relapsers achieved a sustained virological response on combination therapy.
  • The best treatments are less clear for non-responders and relapsers.


Late Middle English: from Latin relaps- 'slipped back', from the verb relabi, from re- 'back' + labi 'to slip'. Early senses referred to a return to heresy or wrongdoing.

Definition of relapse in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources