sham·​bol·​ic sham-ˈbä-lik How to pronounce shambolic (audio)
chiefly British
: obviously disorganized or confused

Examples of shambolic in a Sentence

a shambolic system of public transportation
Recent Examples on the Web The White House’s shambolic campaign to empower the Iranian regime is an underappreciated scandal. The Editors, National Review, 18 Aug. 2023 Many Americans who aren’t highly politically engaged seem to have rapidly forgotten that Trump’s first term was a shambolic, embarrassing mess. Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 14 Aug. 2023 Other analysts argue that Khan has to shoulder blame for a shambolic stint in office and the dangerous demagoguery that preceded and followed it. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2023 Messi sat out the first half, watching shambolic defenders offer up a string of scoring opportunities that neither side was competent to convert. Jody Rosen, The New Yorker, 23 July 2023 Without a central budget or an executive authority that could force states to provide the necessary men and provisions, the war was sometimes shambolic; the colonists just barely won their independence. Radek Sikorski, Foreign Affairs, 20 June 2023 Since re-taking control of the country in August 2021, following the shambolic withdrawal of the United States and its allies, the Taliban has rolled back decades of progress on human rights. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, 5 July 2023 But this big, splashy show, which is quite entertaining at times, is hampered by a shambolic jumble of sisterhood 101 messaging and defanged fantasy revisionism. Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, 23 June 2023 In the end, the Russian offensive was just shambolic enough to let Ukrainian forces fight a successful delaying action, holding the capital and sucking Putin’s military into a long, bloody slog. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shambolic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from shambles

First Known Use

1970, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shambolic was in 1970

Dictionary Entries Near shambolic

Cite this Entry

“Shambolic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

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