The Sanas of "On the Lam"
DanCas1 at AOL.COM
Mon Dec 13 03:25:26 UTC 2004
On the lam.
Léim, al. leum,
To jump. To fly out. To leap.
Lam: To flee; to jump bail or parole.
(Goldin & O’Leary, Dictionary of American Underworld Lingo, NY, 1950, p.
ERIE: “...these guys I put the bite on is dead wrong G’s, and they expect
to be paid back Tuesday, or else I’m outa luck, and have to take it on the
lam, or I’ll get beat up and maybe sent to the hospital.” (Hughie, p. 289)
Lam: n. Slang. On the run, hurried escape, as in take it on the lam or on
the lam. 1897, from the verb meaning of run away. Origin unknown. (The Barnhart
Dictionary of Etymology, pp. 573-574).
It is ironic that these so-called underworld “slang" terms were the literate
Irish words of early medieval Irish manuscripts seven hundred years before
Geoffrey Chaucer had his first spelling lesson.
The Irish Studies Program
New College of California
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