lam·​ster | \ ˈlam(p)-stər How to pronounce lamster (audio) \

Definition of lamster

: a fugitive especially from the law

Did you know?

Lamsters as a class are probably as old as the law from which they flee, but the term lamster didn't sneak into our language until the early 1900s, less than ten years after the appearance of the earliest known evidence of the noun lam, meaning "sudden or hurried flight especially from the law" (as in the phrase "on the lam"). Both words have an old verb relation, though. Lam has meant "to beat soundly" or "to strike or thrash" since the late 16th century (and consequently gave us our verb lambaste), but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it developed another meaning: "to flee hastily." The origins of the verb are obscure, but etymologists suggest that it is Scandinavian in origin and akin to the Old Norse lemja, meaning "to thrash."

First Known Use of lamster

1904, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lamster

lam entry 2 + -ster

Learn More About lamster

Time Traveler for lamster

Time Traveler

The first known use of lamster was in 1904

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About lamster

Dictionary Entries Near lamster




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for lamster

Cite this Entry

“Lamster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!