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[leym] /leɪm/
adjective, lamer, lamest.
crippled or physically disabled, especially in the foot or leg so as to limp or walk with difficulty.
impaired or disabled through defect or injury:
a lame arm.
weak; inadequate; unsatisfactory; clumsy:
a lame excuse.
Slang. out of touch with modern fads or trends; unsophisticated.
verb (used with object), lamed, laming.
to make lame or defective.
Slang. a person who is out of touch with modern fads or trends, especially one who is unsophisticated.
Origin of lame1
before 900; Middle English (adj. and v.); Old English lama (adj.); cognate with Dutch lam, German lahm, Old Norse lami; akin to Lithuanian lúomas
Related forms
lamely, adverb
lameness, noun
Can be confused
lame, lamé. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lameness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The presence of a corn is indicated by lameness, and a red spot in the horn, close to the heel.

    Riding for Ladies Mrs. Power O'Donoghue
  • First you seem so cheerful; then you make light of my lameness.

    Reels and Spindles Evelyn Raymond
  • But after the cheerful letters you wrote from Canada, I hoped the lameness didn't trouble you very much.

    Johnstone of the Border Harold Bindloss
  • Their progress was very slow, on account of Aunt Amanda's lameness.

    The Old Tobacco Shop William Bowen
  • Is indicated by lameness, fever, and a soft swelling just above the hoof.

    Domestic Animals Richard L. Allen
  • I was confined to my quarters by lameness, and had no alternative but to go with them.

    A Retrospect James Hudson Taylor
  • Crowds flock to him to be cured of their lameness, deafness, &c.—Irish Papers.

    George Cruikshank's Omnibus George Cruikshank
  • He ignored his lameness so absolutely that often Laura too almost forgot it.

    The Torch Bearer I. T. Thurston
  • According to an account already given, Vulcan, because of his lameness, was cast out of Heaven by his mother Juno.

British Dictionary definitions for lameness


disabled or crippled in the legs or feet
painful or weak: a lame back
weak; unconvincing: a lame excuse
not effective or enthusiastic: a lame try
(US, slang) conventional or uninspiring
(transitive) to make lame
Derived Forms
lamely, adverb
lameness, noun
Word Origin
Old English lama; related to Old Norse lami, German lahm


one of the overlapping metal plates used in armour after about 1330; splint
Word Origin
C16: via Old French from Latin lāmina a thin plate, lamina


  1. a fabric of silk, cotton, or wool interwoven with threads of metal
  2. (as modifier): a gold lamé gown
Word Origin
from French, from Old French lame gold or silver thread, thin plate, from Latin lāmina thin plate
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
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Word Origin and History for lameness

1520s, from lame (adj.) + -ness.



"silk interwoven with metallic threads," 1922, from French lame, earlier "thin metal plate (especially in armor), gold wire; blade; wave (of the sea)," from Middle French lame, from Latin lamina, lamna "thin piece or flake of metal."


Old English lama "crippled, lame; paralytic, weak," from Proto-Germanic *lamon (cf. Old Norse lami, Dutch and Old Frisian lam, German lahm "lame"), "weak-limbed," literally "broken," from PIE root *lem- "to break; broken," with derivatives meaning "crippled" (cf. Old Church Slavonic lomiti "to break," Lithuanian luomas "lame"). In Middle English, "crippled in the feet," but also "crippled in the hands; disabled by disease; maimed." Sense of "socially awkward" is attested from 1942. Noun meaning "crippled persons collectively" is in late Old English.


"to make lame," c.1300, from lame (adj.). Related: Lamed; laming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lameness in Medicine

lame (lām)
adj. lam·er, lam·est

  1. Disabled so that movement, especially walking, is difficult or impossible.

  2. Marked by pain or rigidness.

v. lamed, lam·ing, lames
To cause to become lame; cripple.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for lameness



  1. Socially awkward; clumsy; klutzy: Cindy normally tells such great jokes, but that last one was really lame (1942+)
  2. (also lamed or lame-o) Stupid; inept: I automatically inherit this lame ''slacker'' attitude/ Don't try and sell us this lame-o ''throwback to a bygone era'' argument (1950s+ Students)
  3. : a lame assault on boomers/ Their performances were sloppy, sometimes even lame (1950s+ Teenagers fr jazz musicians)


An old-fashioned, conventional person; square: and not worry about anybody naming me a lame/ not have been as quick to judge him as a lame (1950s+ Teenagers fr jazz musicians)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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