Definition of shambles
1 archaic : a meat market
2 : slaughterhouse
3a : a place of mass slaughter or bloodshed <the battlefield became a shambles>b : a scene or a state of great destruction : wreckage <the city was a shambles after the bombing>c (1) : a scene or a state of great disorder or confusion <an economy in shambles> (2) : great confusion : mess
Origin and Etymology of shambles
Middle English shameles, plural of schamel vendor's table, footstool, from Old English sceamol stool, from Latin scamillum, diminutive of scamnum stool, bench; perhaps akin to Sanskrit skambha pillar
First Known Use: 15th century
SHAMBLES Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of shambles for English Language Learners
: a place or state in which there is great confusion, disorder, or destruction
SHAMBLES Defined for Kids
Definition of shambles for Students
: a place or scene of disorder or destruction <After the party, the house was a shambles.> Hint: Shambles can be used as a singular or a plural in writing and speaking.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up shambles? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).