Definition of ramshackle
1 : appearing ready to collapse : rickety
2 : carelessly or loosely constructed a ramshackle plot
Examples of ramshackle in a sentence
The movie's ramshackle plot is confusing and not believable.
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of ramshackle
alteration of earlier ransackled, from past participle of obsolete ransackle, frequentative of ransack
First Known Use: 1830
RAMSHACKLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ramshackle for English Language Learners
: in a very bad condition and needing to be repaired
: not carefully made or put together
RAMSHACKLE Defined for Kids
Definition of ramshackle for Students
: ready to fall down a ramshackle barn
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ramshackle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).