ramshackle

adjective
ram·​shack·​le | \ ˈram-ˌsha-kəl How to pronounce ramshackle (audio) \

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

The house of two doors is ramshackle, weathered, prematurely ancient, and part of it, the veranda out back, is slowly collapsing. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "Ramblin’ Man," 24 June 2019 Eventually, Day's ramshackle home and property were searched along with local cemeteries and canals, to no avail, according to Lt. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Body found at Oregon house identified as missing Disney Mouseketeer Dennis Day," 6 June 2019 Cole was solid, especially given the steep learning curve of the NFL paired with a ramshackle year for the Cardinals as a whole. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Competition at center? Kingsbury has yet to name Shipley or Cole the Cardinals starter," 8 June 2019 The Floor: The scene was shot in a ramshackle old steel factory in Budapest, Hungary, and the original flooring was made of concrete. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "How They Pulled Off the Chase Scene in 'Robin Hood'," 30 Nov. 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 Andrew Orchard lives near the northeastern coast of Tasmania, in the same ramshackle farmhouse that his great-grandparents, the first generation of his English family to be born on the Australian island, built in 1906. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger," 16 Jan. 2012 But both countries stepped up aid deliveries into southern Syria to meet the needs of people fleeing their homes to ramshackle encampments along the borders. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Hundreds of Syrian Rescuers Evacuated as Assad Tightens Grip on Rebel Areas," 22 July 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

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

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce ramshackle (audio) \

Kids Definition of ramshackle

: ready to fall down a ramshackle barn

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More from Merriam-Webster on ramshackle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ramshackle

Spanish Central: Translation of ramshackle

Nglish: Translation of ramshackle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ramshackle for Arabic Speakers

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