in the mechanical sense "retardation of movement," 1855, from lag (v.). Also noted in Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") as American theatrical slang for "a wait," with an attestation from 1847. First record of lag time is from 1951.
It forms all or part of: ablactation; cafe au lait; galactic; galaxy; lactate (v.); lactate (n.); lactation; lacteal; lactescence; lactic; lactivorous; lacto-; lactose; latte; lettuce.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk;" Greek gala (genitive galaktos), "milk;" Armenian dialectal kaxc' "milk." The initial "g" probably was lost in Latin by dissimilation. This and the separate root *melg-, account for words for "milk" in most of the Indo-European languages. The absence of a common word for it is considered a mystery.