The Meaning of Lame: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of lame? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word lame, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word lame mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word lame is an adjective. This can either refer to someone or something that is impaired or disabled through defect or injury, or someone of something that is poor or weak figuratively. Someone might say that someone else has made up a lame excuse for why they cannot go to a party, that they had a lame argument with their partner, or that they have a lame leg from an accident that caused muscle atrophy. The pronunciation of lame is leɪm. The suffixes er and the modifier est can be added onto the end of lame to make the superlatives lamer and lamest. One can add the suffix ly to make lamely (adv.). For example, someone might say that a corporation tried to appeal to their customers lamely, with a cheesy, dateed ad campaign and nothing of real substance.

Lamé is also a type of fabric. This is a brocaded clothing material made from fibers that are combined with tinsel filling threads or other sorts of metallic threads. Rayon or other sorts of ornamental fabric can be lamé. This is also used to refer to medieval armor/armour with small overlapping steel plates joined to slide on one another, per Merriam-Webster. Someone might put a thin piece of lamé on a garment for decoration in modern fads and trends such as a lame dress. The pronunciation of lamé is ˈlɑːmeɪ, and lamé is try syllables – la-mé. The word lamé is differentiated form the word lame by use of the accent over the e. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean lame. You will notice that many of these words look similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean the same thing across different languages. Cognates are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word lame is provided by Word Sense

lame – unable to walk properly

  •  Cyrillic: хром‎
  •  Aromanian: shcljop‎
  •  Dutch: lam‎, verlamd‎, kreupel‎, mank‎
  •  Greek: χωλός‎ (masc.), κουτσός‎ (masc.)
  •  Persian: لنگ‎ (lang)
  •  German: lahm‎
  •  Friulian: çuet‎
  •  Quechua: hank’a‎, sucu‎, magro‎
  •  Japanese: 足の不自由‎, 足の悪い‎ (あしのわるい, ashi-no warui)
  •  Neapolitan: sciancato‎
  •  Aragonese: coixo‎
  •  Danish: lam‎
  •  Portuguese: manco‎, perneta‎, coxo‎ (Brasil), capenga‎ (Brasil)
  •  Armenian: կաղ‎
  •  Polish: kulawy‎, kulejący‎
  •  Arabic: أَعْرَج‎
  •  Bulgarian: куц‎ (kuc)
  •  Maori: tahakopa‎, hauā‎, waehauā‎
  •  Ukrainian: кульгавий‎ (kulʹhávyj)
  •  Finnish: rampa‎
  •  Bashkir: аҡһаҡ‎, сатан‎
  •  French: boiteux‎ (masc.), boiteuse‎ (fem.)
  •  Irish: bacach‎
  •  Belarusian: кульгавы‎ (kulʹhávy)
  •  Swedish: lam‎
  •  Catalan: coix‎
  •  Hungarian: sánta‎
  •  Slovak: chromý‎
  •  Czech: chromý‎ (masc.)
  •  Roman: hrom‎
  •  West Frisian: mank‎
  •  Venetian: cionpo‎, soto‎, zhot‎, çoto‎
  •  Mandarin: 瘸腿‎ (quétuǐ), 跛‎ (bǒ), 跛足‎ (bǒzú), 瘸‎ (qué)
  •  Macedonian: куц‎ (kuc)
  •  Lithuanian: luošas‎ (masc.), šlubas‎ (masc.)
  •  Georgian: კოჭლი‎
  •  Italian: zoppo‎
  •  Romanian: șchiop‎ (masc.), olog‎ (masc.)
  •  Dalmatian: zuap‎
  •  Luxembourgish: schlamm‎
  •  Russian: хромо́й‎, хромать‎
  •  Spanish: cojo‎, rengo‎ (Argentina, Uruguay)

lame – slang: failing to be cool, funny, interesting

  •  Georgian: ბანძი‎
  •  Finnish: typerä‎, tyhmä‎, ontuva‎
  •  Dutch: flauw‎
  •  Danish: lamt‎
  •  Spanish: (Mexico) chafa‎
  •  Portuguese: palha‎ (Brazil)
  •  Estonian: nõme‎
  •  Russian: беспонто́вый‎ (masc.), отсто́йный‎ (masc.)
  •  Hungarian: béna‎
  •  French: nul‎, (slang, France) naze‎ (masc.) (f), (Quebec, informal) poche‎
  •  Turkish: geyik‎
  •  Italian: patetico‎, stupido‎
  •  Romanian: anost‎ (masc.), plictisitor‎ (masc.), sters‎ (masc.)
  •  Japanese: ださださ‎ (dasadasa), 寒い‎ (samui)
  •  Polish: kiepski‎ (masc.)

What is the origin of the word lame?

According to Etymonline, the word lame has been used since Middle English. This word comes from the Old English lama and German lahm, which can be compared to the Dutch lam, Old Norse lami,  Old Church Slavonic ломити/lomiti and Latin lāmina or lamina. This is also related to the Middle French and Old French lame gold, and other Proto-Germanic origins. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word lame?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word lame. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a great way to expand your English language vocabulary, and can help you avoid repeating the same word over and over again. This list of synonyms for the word lame is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  paralyze
  •  ineffective
  •  terrible
  •  maimed
  •  feeble
  •  substandard
  •  deformed
  •  defective
  •  hobbling
  •  handicapped
  •  insufficient
  •  unpersuasive
  •  thin
  •  dull
  •  pathetic
  •  paralyzed
  •  stupid
  •  flimsy
  •  halt
  •  boring
  •  infirm
  •  lousy
  •  gimpy
  •  unsatisfactory
  •  disabled
  •  injure
  •  poor
  •  deficient
  •  mutilate
  •  faulty
  •  limp
  •  hamstring
  •  incapacitated
  •  cripple
  •  unconvincing
  •  uncool
  •  disable
  •  incapacitate
  •  dumb
  •  crippled
  •  implausible
  •  ineffectual
  •  inadequate
  •  limping
  •  maim
  •  halting
  •  dissatisfactory
  •  game
  •  square
  •  weak

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word lame. These are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to work on expanding your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word lame is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  healthy
  •  amazing
  •  capable
  •  lit
  •  outstanding
  •  perfect
  •  efficient
  •  highest
  •  terrific
  •  marvellous
  •  superlative
  •  impactful
  •  grand
  •  marvelous
  •  suitable
  •  good
  •  awesome
  •  powerful
  •  divine
  •  wonderful
  •  exquisite
  •  appropriate
  •  magnificent
  •  finest
  •  fitting
  •  first-rate
  •  fit
  •  peerless
  •  great
  •  satisfactory
  •  incomparable
  •  excellent
  •  prime
  •  able
  •  first-class
  •  matchless
  •  optimal
  •  ideal
  •  exceptional
  •  fantastic
  •  superior
  •  sensational
  •  strong
  •  fabulous
  •  beautiful
  •  unsurpassed
  •  phenomenal
  •  stellar
  •  agile
  •  best

Overall, the word lame means the temporary obstruction of a function or use of a limb on account of injury or defect, or that something is uncool, poor or weak. Lamé can also refer to a piece of plate armor or medieval armor like a gauntlet made by a thin metal plate, or a type of fabric of silk with threads of metal.

Sources:

  1.  Lame | Definition of Lame | Merriam-Webster 
  2. Lame definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. lame | Origin and meaning of lame | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. lame: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Lame synonyms – 1 270 Words and Phrases for Lame | Power Thesaurus