The verb lam has two meanings: to hit or to run away. If you see a bully making little kids cry, you may be tempted to lam him in the nose and then lam before he can retaliate.

The British slang meaning of lam, "hit or beat," is the oldest one, dating from the 16th century. It stems from an Old Norse root that means "to beat" or "to make lame." The newer, North American definition, "escape," can also be used as a noun: "After he stole his cousin's car he went on the lam." Experts trace this meaning back to slang used by pickpockets.

Primary Meanings of lam

give a thrashing to; beat hard
flee; take to one's heels; cut and run
a rapid escape (as by criminals)
Full Definitions of lam

v give a thrashing to; beat hard

flail, thrash, thresh
bat, clobber, cream, drub, lick, thrash
beat thoroughly and conclusively in a competition or fight
Type of:
beat, beat up, work over
give a beating to; subject to a beating, either as a punishment or as an act of aggression

v flee; take to one's heels; cut and run

break away, bunk, escape, fly the coop, head for the hills, hightail it, run, run away, scarper, scat, take to the woods, turn tail
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flee, fly, take flight
run away quickly
run away, as if in a panic
make a rupture in the ranks of the enemy or one's own by quitting or fleeing
run away in a stampede
abscond, absquatulate, bolt, decamp, go off, make off, run off
run away; usually includes taking something or somebody along
elope, run off
run away secretly with one's beloved
break loose, escape, get away
run away from confinement
retreat at full speed
defect, desert
desert (a cause, a country or an army), often in order to join the opposing cause, country, or army
Type of:
go away, go forth, leave
go away from a place

n a rapid escape (as by criminals)

“after the expose he had to take it on the lam
Type of:
escape, flight
the act of escaping physically

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