sham·​bles | \ ˈsham-bəlz How to pronounce shambles (audio) \

Definition of shambles

1 archaic : a meat market
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

Examples of shambles in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This year, with his team a shambles on the field, the O’s fell to 1.3 million paying customers, 28th of baseball’s 30 teams. Marc Fisher, Washington Post, "Joy in Mudville: How the Nats won D.C.’s heart — and what that tells America about Washington," 16 Oct. 2019 Even if things were less of a shambles, Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan: checkmate. Vivian Yee, New York Times, "Carlos Ghosn, Fugitive but a Favorite Son, Returns to Beirut," 31 Dec. 2019 Gomez repeats that grinding tension — call it a sensational shambles — throughout the show. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Sayre Gomez paintings of L.A. are a sensational shambles," 9 Oct. 2019 The balance sheet is a shambles, with a repayment of a massive debt load looming next year. Adam Feuerstein, STAT, "And now, your nominees for worst biopharma CEO of 2019. Let the voting begin!," 17 Dec. 2019 Today the party is a shambles and its new leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, can’t seem to straighten it out. Arne Delfs,, "Angela Merkel’s Wounded Party Doesn’t Know Where to Lead Germany," 20 Nov. 2019 In truth, Watford were a shambles and were completely outplayed by a rampant City., "Manchester City 8-0 Watford: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Premier League Champions Run Riot," 21 Sep. 2019 Against Newcastle, West Ham were a shambles defensively., "West Ham Should Not Sack Manuel Pellegrini - But He Must Stop Being Stubborn, Wake Up & Make Changes," 5 Nov. 2019 For now, businesses along the river are closed, their insides a shambles. Julie Bosman, New York Times, "In the Midwest, Relentless Floods Dredge Up ‘Shadow’ of 1993," 3 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shambles.' 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 shambles

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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The first known use of shambles was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shambles.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for shambles


How to pronounce shambles (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shambles

: a place or state in which there is great confusion, disorder, or destruction


noun plural
sham·​bles | \ ˈsham-bəlz How to pronounce shambles (audio) \

Kids Definition of shambles

: 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shambles

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shambles

Spanish Central: Translation of shambles

Nglish: Translation of shambles for Spanish Speakers

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