I. lap 1 /læp/ BrE AmE noun [countable]
[ Sense 1, 4-5: Language: Old English ; Origin: læppa ]
[ Sense 2-3: Date: 1800-1900 ; Origin: ⇨ ↑ lap 2 ]
[ Sense 3: Origin: in the earlier meaning 'to run a single time round a track' ]
1 . the upper part of your legs when you are sitting down SYN knee
on sb’s lap
Shannon sat on her mother’s lap.
in sb’s lap
His hands were folded in his lap.
2 . a single journey around a race track:
Rubens Barrichello finished a lap ahead of his team-mate.
lap of honour British English victory lap American English (=a lap to celebrate winning)
The entire team took a victory lap in front of their cheering fans.
3 . American English a single journey from one end of a swimming pool to another
do/run/swim a lap
Every morning she swims 50 laps in the pool.
4 . a part of a long journey SYN leg
The last lap of their journey was by ship.
5 . in the lap of luxury having an easy and comfortable life with a lot of money, possessions etc:
She wasn’t used to living in the lap of luxury.
6 . in the lap of the gods British English if the result of something is in the lap of the gods, you do not know what will happen because it depends on things you cannot control
II. lap 2 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle lapped , present participle lapping )
[ Sense 1-2: Language: Old English ; Origin: lapian ]
[ Sense 3: Date: 1200-1300 ; Origin: Probably from ⇨ ↑ lap 1 (1) in the earlier meaning 'fold, piece of cloth' ]
1 . [intransitive and transitive] if water laps something or laps against something such as the shore or a boat, it moves against it or hits it in small waves
lap against/over etc
The waves lapped gently against the rocks.
The tide was lapping the harbour wall.
( also lap up ) [transitive] if an animal laps water, milk etc, it drinks it by putting its tongue into it
3 . [transitive] to pass a competitor in a race who is one complete lap behind you:
Erik Gomas spun off the track when trying to lap Andrew Scott.
—lapping noun [uncountable] :
She could hear the soft lapping of the sea.
lap something ↔ up phrasal verb
1 . to enjoy something without worrying about whether it is good, true etc:
She’s lapping up all the attention she’s getting.
The humour was lapped up by an appreciative crowd.
2 . if an animal laps up water, milk etc, it drinks it by putting its tongue into it:
The cat began to lap up the milk.