lam (n.) Look up lam at Dictionary.com
"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.
lama (n.) Look up lama at Dictionary.com
"Buddhist priest of Mongolia or Tibet," 1650s, from Tibetan blama "chief, high priest," with silent b-. Related: Lamasery.
Lamarckian (adj.) Look up Lamarckian at Dictionary.com
1846, pertaining to French botanist and zoologist J.B.P. Lamarck (1744-1829), especially his view that the process of evolution includes the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
Lamaze Look up Lamaze at Dictionary.com
childbirth technique, developed 1940s by French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze (1891-1957) and named for him.
lamb (n.) Look up lamb at Dictionary.com
Old English lamb "lamb," from Proto-Germanic *lambaz (cognates: Old Norse, Old Frisian, Gothic lamb, Middle Dutch, Dutch lam, Middle High German lamp, German Lamm "lamb"). Common to the Germanic languages, but with no certain cognates outside them. Old English plural was lomberu. Applied to persons (especially young Church members, gentle souls, etc.) from late Old English. Also sometimes used ironically for cruel or rough characters (such as Kirke's Lambs in wars of 1684-86). Lamb's-wool (adj.) is from 1550s.
lambada (n.) Look up lambada at Dictionary.com
"sensual Brazilian dance," 1988, from Portuguese, said in some sources to be literally "a beating, a lashing." But others connect it ultimately to Latin lumbus "loin."
lambaste (v.) Look up lambaste at Dictionary.com
1630s, from lam (1590s, ultimately from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse lemja "to beat, to lame") + baste "to thrash" (see baste). Related: Lambasted; lambasting.
lambda (n.) Look up lambda at Dictionary.com
Greek letter name, from a Semitic source akin to Hebrew lamedh.
lambency (n.) Look up lambency at Dictionary.com
1817, from lambent + -cy.
lambent (adj.) Look up lambent at Dictionary.com
1640s, from figurative use of Latin lambentem (nominative lambens), present participle of lambere "to lick," from PIE root *lab-, indicative of smacking lips or licking (cognates: Greek laptein "to sip, lick," Old English lapian "to lick, lap up, suck;" see lap (v.1)).
Lambert Look up Lambert at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from French, from German Lambert, from Old High German Lambreht, from lant "land" + beraht "bright." Old English cognate was Landbeorht. The popularity of the name from 12c. is probably due to immigration from Flanders, where St. Lambert of Maestricht was highly venerated. Attested as a surname from mid-12c.
Lambeth Look up Lambeth at Dictionary.com
used metonymically for "Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury," 1859, from the archbishop's palace in Lambeth, a South London borough. The Lambeth Walk was a Cockney song and dance, popularized in Britain 1937 in the revue "Me and my Gal," named for a street in the borough. The place name is Old English lambehyðe, "place where lambs are embarked or landed."
lambic (n.) Look up lambic at Dictionary.com
"strong Belgian beer," 1829, related to French alambic "a still" (see alembic).
lambkin (n.) Look up lambkin at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., as a surname, from lamb + diminutive suffix -kin.
lambskin (n.) Look up lambskin at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from lamb + skin (n.).
lame (n.) Look up lame at Dictionary.com
"silk interwoven with metallic threads," 1922, from French lame, earlier "thin metal plate (especially in armor), gold wire; blade; wave (of the sea)," from Middle French lame, from Latin lamina, lamna "thin piece or flake of metal."
lame (adj.) Look up lame at Dictionary.com
Old English lama "crippled, lame; paralytic, weak," from Proto-Germanic *lamon (cognates: Old Norse lami, Dutch and Old Frisian lam, German lahm "lame"), "weak-limbed," literally "broken," from PIE root *lem- "to break; broken," with derivatives meaning "crippled" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic lomiti "to break," Lithuanian luomas "lame"). In Middle English, "crippled in the feet," but also "crippled in the hands; disabled by disease; maimed." Sense of "socially awkward" is attested from 1942. Noun meaning "crippled persons collectively" is in late Old English.
lame (v.) Look up lame at Dictionary.com
"to make lame," c. 1300, from lame (adj.). Related: Lamed; laming.
lame duck (n.) Look up lame duck at Dictionary.com
1761, "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."
A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off. [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]
Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1878 in American English, from an anecdote published in that year of President Lincoln, who is alleged to have said, "[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for."
lame-brain (n.) Look up lame-brain at Dictionary.com
1921, from lame (adj.) + brain (n.).
lamely (adv.) Look up lamely at Dictionary.com
1590s, from lame (adj.) + -ly (2).
lameness (n.) Look up lameness at Dictionary.com
1520s, from lame (adj.) + -ness.
lament (v.) Look up lament at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., back-formation from lamentation or else from Middle French lamenter "to moan, bewail" (14c.) and directly from Latin lamentari, from lamentum (see lamentation). Related: Lamented; lamenting.
lament (n.) Look up lament at Dictionary.com
1590s, from Middle French lament and directly from Latin lamentum (see lamentation).
lamentable (adj.) Look up lamentable at Dictionary.com
c. 1400, from Middle French lamentable and directly from Latin lamentabilis "full of sorrow, mournful, lamentable," from lamentari "to lament" (see lamentation). Related: Lamentably.
lamentation (n.) Look up lamentation at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Old French lamentacion and directly from Latin lamentationem (nominative lamentatio) "wailing, moaning, weeping," noun of action from past participle stem of lamentari "to wail, moan, weep, lament," from lamentum "a wailing," from PIE root *la- "to shout, cry," probably ultimately imitative. Replaced Old English cwiþan.
Lamentations (n.) Look up Lamentations at Dictionary.com
Biblical book, late 14c., short for Lamentations of Jeremiah, from Latin Lamentationes, translating Greek Threnoi (see lamentation).
lamented (adj.) Look up lamented at Dictionary.com
"mourned for," 1610, from past participle of lament (v.).
lamia (n.) Look up lamia at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Latin lamia, from Greek lamia "female vampire," literally "swallower, lecher," from laimos "throat, gullet." Probably cognate with Latin lemures "spirits of the dead" (see lemur). Used in early translations of the Bible for screech owls and sea monsters. Sometimes also, apparently, mermaids.
Also kynde erreþ in som beestes wondirliche j-schape, as it fareþ in a beest þat hatte lamia, þat haþ an heed as a mayde & body as a grym fissche[;] whan þat best lamya may fynde ony man, first a flatereþ wiþ hym with a wommannes face and makeþ hym ligge by here while he may dure, & whanne he may noferþere suffice to here lecherye þanne he rendeþ hym and sleþ and eteþ hym. [John of Trevisa, translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]
laminate (v.) Look up laminate at Dictionary.com
1660s, "to beat or roll into thin plates," from Latin lamina "thin piece of metal or wood, thin slice, plate, leaf, layer," of unknown origin. Many modern senses are from the noun meaning "an artificial thin layer" (1939), especially a type of plastic adhesive. Related: Laminated; laminating.
lamination (n.) Look up lamination at Dictionary.com
"any layer of laminated substance," 1670s, noun of state from laminate. Meaning "process of manufacturing laminated products" is from 1945.
Lammas (n.) Look up Lammas at Dictionary.com
Aug. 1 harvest festival with consecration of loaves, Old English hlafmæsse, literally "loaf mass," from hlaf (see loaf (n.)) + mæsse (see mass (n.2)). Altered by influence of lamb (and occasionally spelled lamb- in 16c.-17c.).
lamp (n.) Look up lamp at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, from Old French lampe "lamp, lights" (12c.), from Latin lampas "a light, torch, flambeau," from Greek lampas "torch, lamp, beacon, meteor, light," from lampein "to shine," from nasalized form of PIE root *lap- "to shine" (cognates: Lithuanian lope "light," Old Irish lassar "flame"). Replaced Old English leohtfæt "light vessel." To smell of the lamp "be a product of laborious night study" is from 1570s.
lamp-black (n.) Look up lamp-black at Dictionary.com
pigment made from pure, fine carbon, originally from the soot produced by burning oil in lamps, 1590s, see lamp.
lamp-post (n.) Look up lamp-post at Dictionary.com
also lamppost, 1731, from lamp + post (n.1).
lamp-shade (n.) Look up lamp-shade at Dictionary.com
also lampshade, 1829, from lamp + shade (n.).
lamplight (n.) Look up lamplight at Dictionary.com
also lamp-light, late 14c., from lamp + light (n.).
lampoon (n.) Look up lampoon at Dictionary.com
"A personal satire; abuse; censure written not to reform but to vex" [Johnson], 1640s, from French lampon (17c.), of unknown origin, said by French etymologists to be from lampons "let us drink," popular refrain for scurrilous 17c. songs, from lamper "to drink, guzzle," a nasalized form of laper "to lap," from a Germanic source akin to lap (v.). Also see -oon.
lampoon (v.) Look up lampoon at Dictionary.com
1650s, from lampoon (n.), or else from French lamponner, from the Middle French noun. Related: Lampooned; lampooning.
lamprey (n.) Look up lamprey at Dictionary.com
c. 1300 (c. 1200 as a surname?), from Old French lamproie, from Medieval Latin lampreda, from Late Latin lampetra "lamprey," of uncertain origin, usually explained as literally "lick-rock," from Latin lambere "to lick" (see lap (v.1)) + petra "rock" (see petrous). The animals attach themselves to things with their sucker-like mouths.
Lancaster Look up Lancaster at Dictionary.com
Loncastre (1086) "Roman Fort on the River Lune," a Celtic river name probably meaning "healthy, pure." The Lancastrians in the War of the Roses took their name from their descent from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
lance (n.) Look up lance at Dictionary.com
late 13c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French lance (12c.), from Latin lancea "light spear, Spanish lance" (Italian lancia, Spanish lanza), possibly of Celt-Iberian origin. The French word spread into Germanic (German Lanze, Middle Dutch lanse, Dutch lans, Danish landse). Lance corporal (1786) is from obsolete lancepesade "officer of lowest rank" (1570s), from Old Italian lancia spezzata "old soldier," literally "broken lance."
lance (v.) Look up lance at Dictionary.com
"to pierce with a lance," c. 1300, from Old French lancier, from Late Latin lanceare "wield a lance; pierce with a lance," from lancea (see lance (n.)). The surgical sense (properly with reference to a lancet) is from late 15c. Related: Lanced; lancing.
Lancelot Look up Lancelot at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, Old French, a double-diminutive of Frankish Lanzo, a hypocoristic name formed from some one of the Germanic names in Land-; compare Old English Landbeorht "land-bright," in Old French Lambert.
lancer (n.) Look up lancer at Dictionary.com
1580s, "soldier armed with a lance," from French lancier, from Old French lance (see lance (n.)).
lancet (n.) Look up lancet at Dictionary.com
late 14c., launcet, from Old French lancette "small lance" (12c.), diminutive of lance (see lance (n.)).
land (n.) Look up land at Dictionary.com
Old English land, lond, "ground, soil," also "definite portion of the earth's surface, home region of a person or a people, territory marked by political boundaries," from Proto-Germanic *landom (cognates: Old Norse, Old Frisian Dutch, Gothic land, German Land), from PIE *lendh- "land, heath" (cognates: Old Irish land, Middle Welsh llan "an open space," Welsh llan "enclosure, church," Breton lann "heath," source of French lande; Old Church Slavonic ledina "waste land, heath," Czech lada "fallow land").

Etymological evidence and Gothic use indicates the original sense was "a definite portion of the earth's surface owned by an individual or home of a nation." Meaning early extended to "solid surface of the earth," which had been the sense of the root of Modern English earth. Original sense of land in English is now mostly found under country. To take the lay of the land is a nautical expression. In the American English exclamation land's sakes (1846) land is a euphemism for Lord.
land (v.1) Look up land at Dictionary.com
"to bring to land," early 13c., from land (n.). Originally of ships; of fish, in the angling sense, from 1610s; hence figurative sense of "to obtain" (a job, etc.), first recorded 1854. Of aircraft, attested from 1916. Related: Landed; landing.
land (v.2) Look up land at Dictionary.com
"to make contact, to hit home" (of a blow, etc.), by 1881, perhaps altered from lend in a playful sense, or else an extension of land (v.1).
landau (n.) Look up landau at Dictionary.com
type of four-wheeled carriage, 1743, from Landau, town in Bavaria where they first were made. The first element is the common Germanic element found in English land (n.); the identity of the second is disputed. But Klein says the vehicle name is "in reality" Spanish lando "originally a light four-wheeled carriage drawn by mules," from Arabic al-andul.