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verb (used with object), lammed, lam·ming.
  1. to beat; thrash.
verb (used without object), lammed, lam·ming.
  1. to beat; strike; thrash (usually followed by out or into).

Origin of lam1

1590–1600; < Old Norse lamdi, past tense of lemja to beat; akin to lame1


  1. a hasty escape; flight.
verb (used without object), lammed, lam·ming.
  1. to run away quickly; escape; flee: I'm going to lam out of here as soon as I've finished.
  1. on the lam, escaping, fleeing, or hiding, especially from the police: He's been on the lam ever since he escaped from jail.
  2. take it on the lam, to flee or escape in great haste: The swindler took it on the lam and was never seen again.

Origin of lam2

1885–90; special use of lam1. Compare beat it! be off!


  1. the 23rd letter of the Arabic alphabet.

Origin of lām

From Arabic; see origin at lambda


[lahm, lam]
  1. Wi·fre·do [wi-frey-doh] /wɪˈfreɪ doʊ/or Wil·fre·do [wil-frey-doh] /wɪlˈfreɪ doʊ/, 1902–82, Cuban painter in Europe.


  1. laminated.


  1. Lamentations.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lam

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Mrs. McKee drew a long breath and entered the lam stew in a book.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • I've got Jeems Henery to stop gamblin',” he whispered, “an' I didn't have to lam' him.

  • A trader, coming into this camp, represented that lam Khn had let Sl.

    The Bbur-nma in English

    Babur, Emperor of Hindustan

  • A genus formed for the reception of Isocardia semi-sulcata, Lam.

    A Conchological Manual

    George Brettingham Sowerby

  • A family of the first section of the order Trachelipoda, Lam.

    A Conchological Manual

    George Brettingham Sowerby

British Dictionary definitions for lam


verb lams, lamming or lammed slang
  1. (tr) to thrash or beat
  2. (intr; usually foll by into or out) to make a sweeping stroke or blow

Word Origin

C16: from Scandinavian; related to Old Norse lemja


  1. a sudden flight or escape, esp to avoid arrest
  2. on the lam
    1. making an escape
    2. in hiding
verb lams, lamming or lammed
  1. (intr) to escape or flee

Word Origin

C19: perhaps from lam 1 (hence, to be off)


abbreviation for
  1. Lamentations
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lam


"flight," as in on the lam, 1897, from a U.S. slang verb meaning "to run off" (1886), of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow from the first element of lambaste, which was used in British student slang for "beat" since 1590s; if so, it would give the word the same etymological sense as the slang expression beat it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lam


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.