"flight," together in on the lam, 1897, native a U.S. Slang verb definition "to run off" (1886), of unsure origin, maybe somehow from the first element the lambaste, i m sorry was provided in British college student slang for "beat" because 1590s.

Does anyone recognize of any kind of other explanations?


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New come me, however the OED offers it as us slang and from the verb ‘lam’, definition ‘to operation off, to escape’, which, again, is us slang. The beginning sems to it is in in an Old Norse native which is cognate with ‘lame’.

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This inquiry was posted in 2011, however apparently there had actually been studies on the etymology the this term that haven"t been debated in existing answers. There is a 1998 short article on this specific topic in The new York time Magazine: ~ above Language; ~ above the Lam, who Made Thee? By wilhelm SAFIRE, march 1, 1998:

In The Random home Historical dictionary of American Slang, J.E. Lighter specifies the term as prison lingo because that ""an act of to run or flight, esp. A dash to escape native custody."" In his 1886 ""30 years a Detective,"" Allan Pinkerton, the an initial ""private eye,"" defines an operation of pickpockets: ""After that secures the wallet, he will certainly utter words "lam!" This method to permit the male go and to acquire out the the method as quickly as possible."" Lighter cites do a lam, make a lam and take a lam early on in this century, finally emerging as the passive state of being on the lam.

And the OED"s details on that Scandinavian origin is echoed here:

Lighter speculates the it may be rooted in the language Scandinavian verb lam, together in the 1525 ""his mam sore lamming him,"" meaning ""to beat, pound or strike."" mark Twain offered it twice: ""lamming the lady"" in 1855 and also ""lam choose all creation"" in 1865, both clearly meaning ""to beat."" The said connection is the to prevent a feared lamming (related come slamming), one lams.

So this theory speculates that there"s the verb lam first, attested by note Twain"s use of words in his books. Then perhaps a new an interpretation evolved out of the verb: in order to not obtain lammed, one go on the lam.

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Other theories likewise exist:

At the university of Missouri at Rolla, Gerald Cohen, a professor of international languages at this time at work on a slang dictionary, has another theory. He note the cant lammas in Eric Partridge"s dictionary of the Underworld, the lingo of costermongers in London roughly 1855, conversely spelled nammou, meaning ""to depart, esp. Furtively"" and also related to vamoose in the lingo of the American West.

""Namase v its variant spellings,"" Cohen says, ""was the conventional cant term for "leave/make off/depart/skedaddle." i don"t understand why nam ended up being lam, yet the meanings are the same.""