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Lamer is a jargon or slang name applied to individuals thought to be lacking in maturity, social skills, or intelligence. It is applied in a variety of contexts, though the proliferation of computer-mediated communication media such as IRC or BBSes may be partly responsible for bringing the term into common parlance.

This term is thought to originate in skateboarding slang, since being lame[?] (i.e. paralyzed[?] or otherwise "stiff in the body") may be dangerous or fatal in the sport. It does not imply that the person in question is actually paralyzed; they are simply thought to be bad at skateboarding. The term came into more general use, applied to anyone thought to be "lame," either physically or (more often) intellectually.

With the rise of electronic bulletin board systems, some bulletin board users may have begun using skateboard slang in application to users of these systems. A lamer was thus a term applied to incompetent users of bulletin board systems. This may have originated as far back as on the first bulletin boards run on TRS-80 and Apple II computers.

In the subculture of the home computer era of Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST and the like in the 1980s, lamer was the standard name for anyone who had a larger mouth than skills. Typically this included "programmers" writing demos using demomaker software.

Internet context

When applied to users of the internet, in particular users of IRC, newsgroups, mailing lists, or other electronically-mediated communication, the term "lamer" may mean one or more of the following:

  • One with exceptionally poor typing skills or grammar, who uses what is considered to be an excessive number of emoticons, or who uses exclamation marks or other punctuation to excess
  • A script kiddie
  • One with little or no respect for authority or convention in the context of using some communication facility
  • Anyone with any variety of behaviors that are thought to be annoying

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