I'd always thought that "lame" as in "lame argument" or "lame excuse" was relatively modern youth slang. Then I ran across it in a 19th-century source, and so decided to check the OED. It turns out that the definition of "[m]aimed, halting; imperfect or defective, unsatisfactory as wanting a part or parts," "[s]aid esp[ecially] of an argument, excuse, account, narrative, or the like" dates back at least to Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida: "blame me not if any word [of my work] be lame." Then there's Shakespeare, in Othello, speaking of a "most lame and impotent conclusion." Most lame, dude! And Swift, in Gulliver's Travels, "The theory of comets, which at present is very lame and defective."
On reflection, it shouldn't be surprising — why shouldn't earlier centuries think of the same figurative usages that modern Americans use? Still, I didn't expect it.