ramshackle

adjective ram·shack·le \ ˈram-ˌsha-kəl \
Updated on: 12 Dec 2017

Definition of ramshackle

1 : appearing ready to collapse : rickety
2 : carelessly or loosely constructed
  • a ramshackle plot

ramshackle was our Word of the Day on 05/19/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of ramshackle in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of ramshackle from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of ramshackle

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


RAMSHACKLE Defined for English Language Learners

ramshackle

adjective

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

ramshackle

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

Definition of ramshackle for Students

: ready to fall down
  • a ramshackle barn


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