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On the lam

Posted by David FG on December 05, 2009 at 13:42

In Reply to: On the lam posted by Marty on December 05, 2009 at 09:24:

: What is the background of the phrase "On the lam"? It is heard in movies and tv shows describing a person running and hiding to avoid capture by the Police.

It appears to derive from the (to me, at least) more familiar meaning of 'lam', which is to hit or beat (cf 'beat it' meaning 'go away'). It comes from the Scandinavian 'lemja' which means, it seems, appropriately enough, 'to lame' or to hurt.