Share this entry

Share this page


Syllabification: lax
Pronunciation: /laks

Definition of lax in English:


1Not sufficiently strict, severe, or careful: lax security arrangements at the airport he’d been a bit lax about discipline in school lately
More example sentences
  • Those two sides have plenty of time to interact due to the ludicrously lax security arrangements.
  • The punishment must fit the crime, neither too lax nor too severe.
  • Many social problems stem from lax enforcement of strict legal code.
slack, slipshod, negligent, remiss, careless, heedless, unmindful, slapdash, offhand, casual;
easygoing, lenient, permissive, liberal, indulgent, overindulgent
informal sloppy
2(Of the limbs or muscles) relaxed.
Example sentences
  • He had, by now, stood up, but his lanky limbs were still lax as his back steadied itself against the wall.
  • I stagger down the street for a while before my lax limbs become used to working again.
  • His friend sagged slightly then, something that looked like the beginnings of tears glimmering on his eyelashes as he pulled lax fingers into action and slowly unbuttoned his shirt.
2.1(Of the bowels) loose.
Example sentences
  • The unfortunate offset was that the hydronically excited children became rather lax in the bladder department, and messy assisted toilet trips were required.
2.2 Phonetics (Of a speech sound, especially a vowel) pronounced with the vocal muscles relaxed. The opposite of tense1.
Example sentences
  • In view of the time required to move to more peripheral vowel positions, tense vowels tend to be peripheral and lax vowels closer to schwa, the neutral or central vowel.


late Middle English (in the sense 'loose', said of the bowels): from Latin laxus.



Pronunciation: /ˈlaksətē/
Example sentences
  • Most of the studies of joint laxity contributing to injury are limited to the knee joint.
  • They didn't think to ask her how come she and one of her band mates had come to be lying under oath about it, though, which seems like a spot of journalistic laxity.
  • The history of government over the past seven years gives the impression of laxity, thus causing populism to overflow and public authority to shrink.


Example sentences
  • The school had wanted to expand school enrollment and wanted to make sure that there were enough qualifying students, which was why the teachers graded laxly.
  • Both are known as the pre-Code era, although a loose, laxly administered set of standards was already in place for both media.
  • In the early twentieth century, twenty-eight states restricted child labor by law, but most of the laws were vaguely worded, full of exemptions, and laxly enforced.


Example sentences
  • I think a lot of immigration lawyers like myself laughed when we heard about the laxness of our immigration system.
  • The family discord has been in progress for about two weeks, said the man, attributing it, in part, to the laxness of previous discipline.
  • There will be no place for such laxness this Sunday.

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day peart
Pronunciation: pərt
lively; cheerful