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On the lam

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  • The idiom is on the lam, not on the lamb. The exact origins of this sense of lam are unknown, but it’s believed to be a late 19th-century U.S. slang term. It was originally a verb meaning to escape, and it’s still occasionally used in that sense, but today it mostly functions as a noun. To be on the lam is to escape, to flee justice, or to be in hiding from law enforcement.

    Examples

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    An accused East Coast mobster, on the lam for more than 10 years, was found by the FBI in an unlikely occupation and location. [New York Daily News]

    Mr. Israel, who went on the lam briefly, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. [Wall Street Journal]

    Brosnan then attempts to pin the killing on the shallow, silly, former Dead Head Vanderveer who is forced to go on the lam to clear himself. [CultureMap]

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    Comments

    1. I have to explain this to people every day… :)

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