Could you provide synonyms of "lags behind" as used in this example sentence?

The chemical reaction lags behind the application of heat.

I am seeking idioms to say that chemical reactions take place with a lag some time (say a few seconds) after heat is applied to a tube with reactants.

  • What is the source of the example sentence? Did you write it yourself?
    – James K
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 7:14
  • Yes, it's an example of mine, maybe wrong.
    – user163894
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 7:19
  • 2
    Lags behind isn't right here. Perhaps try "The chemical reaction begins shortly after the application of heat." This isn't an idiom however. Just plain English.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 22:17

1 Answer 1


You don't really mean "lags behind". That means "fails to keep pace with", for example in a race.

In simple formal English, you probably mean, "The chemical reactions start a few seconds after the application of heat."

That's not an idiom, it is just stating the facts in simple words.

  • Thank you. I prefer not to mention the seconds. Could I say "lags"? Or "comes with a lag after"?
    – user163894
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 7:34
  • Why do you want to use that word? I'd probably understand what you mean, but I assume you are writing in a fairly formal context, and "lags" has implications of "failing to keep up" or "it should start at the the same time but doesn't". It implies a negative judgement. If you don't want to mention seconds just say "a short time" or "a few moments" or "after a short delay" or similar.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 7:58

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