Etymology
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lam (n.)

"flight, escape," as in on the lam, 1928, in pickpocket slang, (according to OED attested from 1897 in do a lam), from a U.S. slang verb meaning "to run off" (1886), of uncertain origin, but perhaps from lam (v.), which was used in British student slang for "to beat" since 1590s (compare lambaste); if so, the word has the same etymological sense as the slang expression beat it.

lam (v.)

also lamm, "to thrash, beat," 1590s, a slang, provincial or colloquial word, probably from Old Norse lemja "to beat," literally "to lame," which is cognate with the native verb lame (see lame (adj.)). Related: Lammed; lamming.

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Definitions of lam
1
lam (v.)
flee; take to one's heels; cut and run;
Synonyms: scat / run / scarper / turn tail / run away / hightail it / bunk / head for the hills / take to the woods / escape / fly the coop / break away
lam (v.)
give a thrashing to; beat hard;
Synonyms: thrash / thresh / flail
2
lam (n.)
a rapid escape (as by criminals);
after the expose he had to take it on the lam
Synonyms: getaway
From wordnet.princeton.edu