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

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 Europe 30 years ago was relatively ramshackle, things were cheaper and because fewer people could afford to travel for fun, there was much less competition for budget rooms. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Book smart when looking for lodging in Europe," 25 Sep. 2018 With daily fieldwork and nightly lectures, participants bunk in ramshackle shelters and see as much bone-chilling wind and rain as skin-blistering sun reflected off endless mounds of snow. Scott Yorko, Popular Mechanics, "Back to Alaska: How a Legendary Glacier Adventure Almost Died When the World Needed It Most," 12 Sep. 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, 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

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

11 Dec 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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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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