ramshackle

adjective
ram·shack·le | \ˈram-ˌsha-kəl \

Definition of ramshackle 

1 : appearing ready to collapse : rickety

2 : carelessly or loosely constructed a ramshackle plot

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The Evolution of Ramshackle

Ramshackle has nothing to do with rams, nor the act of being rammed, nor shackles. The word is an alteration of ransackled, an obsolete form of the verb ransack, meaning "to search through or plunder." (Ransack in turn derives, via Middle English, from Old Norse words meaning "house" and "seek.") A home that has been ransacked has had its contents thrown into disarray, and that image may be what caused us to start using ramshackle in the first half of the 19th century to describe something that is poorly constructed or in a state of near collapse. These days, ramshackle can also be used figuratively, as in "He could only devise a ramshackle excuse for his absence."

Examples of ramshackle in a Sentence

The movie's ramshackle plot is confusing and not believable.

Recent Examples on the Web

In an arena hidden among ramshackle farms and nurseries west of Hialeah, spilling blood was a regular occurrence. David Ovalle, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Who shot the cockfight ref? Secret arena outside Miami was packed but nobody's talking," 13 June 2018 In an arena hidden among ramshackle farms and nurseries west of Hialeah, spilling blood was a regular occurrence. David Ovalle, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Who shot the cockfight ref? Secret arena outside Miami was packed but nobody's talking," 13 June 2018 In an arena hidden among ramshackle farms and nurseries west of Hialeah, spilling blood was a regular occurrence. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Who shot the cockfight ref? Secret arena outside Miami was packed but nobody's talking," 12 June 2018 After the man collapsed on June 1 on the track grounds beside the ramshackle employee housing run by the New York Racing Association, and died less than a week later, state health officials suspected hantavirus. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Hantavirus Was Not the Cause of Belmont Park Worker’s Death," 24 June 2018 When Brown opened his business three years ago, restaurants and tech companies were already moving into the ramshackle warehouses that dot Richmond’s waterfront. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Soon-to-open Richmond ferry terminal could revive shoreline, usher in gentrification," 5 July 2018 In a probable cause statement filed last year, prosecutors said Almena charged from $300 to $1,400 rent for space in the ramshackle housing, court documents show. James Queally, latimes.com, "Ghost Ship operators plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter in fire that killed 36 people," 4 July 2018 Fallen behind Tabasco’s oil country is a short drive from the capital of Villahermosa and is spread across green wetlands pockmarked with Pemex oil wells that sit alongside ramshackle villages. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Two States of Mexico Reveal the Split Driving Sunday’s Presidential Election," 28 June 2018 Police near Vancouver, Canada, pulled over an SUV driver this week for towing a sailboat precariously perched on a ramshackle trailer that had been customized with wood pallets and duct tape. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Police pull over SUV towing boat trailer made with wood pallets and duct tape," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ramshackle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ramshackle

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ramshackle

alteration of earlier ransackled, from past participle of obsolete ransackle, frequentative of ransack

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Dictionary Entries near ramshackle

Ramses

Ramsey

Ramsgate

ramshackle

ramshackleness

ramshackly

ramshorn

Statistics for ramshackle

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for ramshackle

The first known use of ramshackle was in 1830

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More Definitions for ramshackle

ramshackle

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ramshackle

: in a very bad condition and needing to be repaired

: not carefully made or put together

ramshackle

adjective
ram·shack·le | \ˈram-ˌsha-kəl \

Kids Definition of ramshackle

: ready to fall down a ramshackle barn

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Comments on ramshackle

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