When you sit down, the horizontal area between your knees and your torso becomes a lap.

  • Her computer is on her lap. It’s a laptop computer.
  • She has a baby on her lap. (It’s also possible to use the preposition "in." She has a baby in her lap.)
baby in lap

The word "lap" is also used for competitions that require the use of a track or a swimming pool:

  • Swimming from one end of a pool to the other end, and then back again, is one lap. She’s swimming laps.
swimming laps
  • They’re doing laps around a race track. (Once around is one lap.)

When an animal drinks something, you can use "lap" as a verb. It’s also used when water arrives on a shoreline or hits up against the side of a boat:

  • The cat is lapping up some water.
  • The waves lapping against the shoreline create a soothing sound.

There are also some expressions that use the word "lap"

  • Tom didn’t have to work very hard to find his new job. It just fell in his lap. (The job was easy to get.)
  • Sandra expects everything to fall in her lap. (She wants everything to be easy. She doesn’t want to work hard.)
  • I don’t need any more work dropped in my lap. (If something drops in your lap, it might be an unexpected, additional responsibility or amount of work.)

Note: If you have trouble with final "p" sounds, click here to listen to them and practice them.

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This page was first published on September 28, 2012. It was updated on April 19, 2016.