[ lam ]
/ læm /


a hasty escape; flight.

verb (used without object), lammed, lam·ming.

to run away quickly; escape; flee: I'm going to lam out of here as soon as I've finished.

Nearby words

  1. lalo,
  2. lalo-,
  3. lalochezia,
  4. lalopathy,
  5. laloplegia,
  6. lam.,
  7. lama,
  8. lamaism,
  9. lamar,
  10. lamar, lucius quintus cincinnatus


    on the lam, escaping, fleeing, or hiding, especially from the police: He's been on the lam ever since he escaped from jail.
    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 lam

1885–90; special use of lam1. Compare beat it! be off! Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for on the lam


/ (læm) /

verb lams, lamming or lammed slang

(tr) to thrash or beat
(intr; usually foll by into or out) to make a sweeping stroke or blow

Word Origin for lam

C16: from Scandinavian; related to Old Norse lemja


/ (læm) US and Canadian slang /


a sudden flight or escape, esp to avoid arrest
on the lam
  1. making an escape
  2. in hiding

verb lams, lamming or lammed

(intr) to escape or flee

Word Origin for lam

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

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 on the 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 on the lam

on the lam

Running away, especially from the police, as in He's always in some kind of trouble and perpetually on the lam. The origin of this slangy term of the 1800s is not known.


see on the lam.

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