After puzzling over this phrase for quite some time I came across the possible answers offered in this site. The one that seemed to show the most promising solution was the longest entry, which included the possibility of there being a verb “to lam” meaning “to run.” I found just such a verb in the English Dialect Dictionary, a somewhat now forgotten, yet very useful, text. I here provide the germane entry, from Vol. III, pp. 509-10:

“LAM...4. to run quickly. w. Yks 5 Whear’s tuh lamming tul! Ther wur a peeler after him - by Gow didn’t he lam!”

The above quotation - which seems to fit exactly the meaning of “lam” - as “running from the police” (i.e. a “peeler”) - comes from C.C Robinson’s The Dialect of Leeds and its Neighbourhood, of 1861.

  • @user66974 Having followed your link I did begin to wonder whether 'lam' meaning to run was related to 'lam' meaning to beat via the phrase 'hit the road' or even 'hit the ground running', although I suspect that the latter is of later coinage.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 0:32
  • From the little work I’ve devoted to this, I can see that the “lam” means “beat” link is very prevalent and well documented. With my dialectical information, however, I attempt to skip any extra steps altogether. With the “beat” meaning one must somehow attempt to “reverse” this definition to one where a person tries to avoid a beating by running away from it. With the definition I provide, and with the aid of Occam’s Razor, one need not switch or reverse anything because “lam” means “run.” Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 5:39
  • I take it you looked here: link
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 8:43
  • Yes, i have seen that, but as the definition I provide predates most of that formation and because it makes a direct connection between “lam” and “run” I stopped looking. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 15:44


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