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stands for lag, not the button L, right? But does it actually?
People have been making that claim since like 2005 and I was doubtful then, too. I don't ever remember anyone saying "lag-cancel" from my super early years on Smashboards, and why would Smash 64 players talk about Z-canceling if the Z doesn't stand for lag
I suspect the most definitive evidence one way or the other would be if anyone saved any Stadium community stuff from 2000 and 2001, since most of the basic tech skill had been mastered and shared in these communities before they reached as many of the (English-language) competitive groups. Presumably people back then would have discussed the mechanic especially in Board the Platforms in 64 and Home-run Contest in Melee. Unfortunately, I gather that a lot of that discussion happened on GameFAQs which obviously didn't archive any of it.
Anyway, I continue to think the L stands for the button L but would welcome evidence either way
I've paid attention to the competitive scene since the beginning of Melee and I can tell you the definitive answer is that it stands for "landing". This was the term used in Smash 64 and it was carried over to Melee. Later, uninformed people thought the "L" referred to the L button and changed the Smash 64 technique's name to Z-cancelling. But it has always stood for "landing".