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The Scarlet Letter
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The Scarlet Letter
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unspecified meaning
  • Might it not, in the tedious lapse of official life that lay before me, finally be with me as it was with this venerable friend—to make the dinner-hour the nucleus of the day, and to spend the rest of it, as an old dog spends it, asleep in the sunshine or in the shade?
  • Doubtless, however, either of these stern and black-browed Puritans would have thought it quite a sufficient retribution for his sins that, after so long a lapse of years, the old trunk of the family tree, with so much venerable moss upon it, should have borne, as its topmost bough, an idler like myself.

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  • A wolf, it is said—but here the tale has surely lapsed into the improbable—came up and smelt of Pearl’s robe, and offered his savage head to be patted by her hand.
  • Mr. Dimmesdale was a true priest, a true religionist, with the reverential sentiment largely developed, and an order of mind that impelled itself powerfully along the track of a creed, and wore its passage continually deeper with the lapse of time.
  • Hereupon, Pearl broke away from her mother, and, running to the brook, stooped over it, and bathed her forehead, until the unwelcome kiss was quite washed off and diffused through a long lapse of the gliding water.
  • This phenomenon, in the various shapes which it assumed, indicated no external change, but so sudden and important a change in the spectator of the familiar scene, that the intervening space of a single day had operated on his consciousness like the lapse of years.
  • And now, almost imperceptible as were the latter steps of his progress, he had come opposite the well-remembered and weather-darkened scaffold, where, long since, with all that dreary lapse of time between, Hester Prynne had encountered the world’s ignominious stare.
  • But, in the lapse of the toilsome, thoughtful, and self-devoted years that made up Hester’s life, the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too.

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To see samples from other sources, click a word sense below:
as in: a lapse in judgement Define
a change in behavior or state--usually undesired (see word notes for more detailed definitions based upon context)
as in: allowed the policy to lapse Define
end or terminate -- often of legal rights or of a person's association with an organization
as in: after the lapse of many hours Define
a period of time -- often a period that has passed
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