toggle menu
1000+ books


used in a sentence
(click/touch triangles for details)
Definition a condition of great disorder

In the past, shambles referenced a slaughterhouse (a building used to butcher animals) — as when Joseph Conrad wrote in The Secret Agent, "I told him that I dreamt of a world like shambles, where the weak would be taken in hand for utter extermination."

Very rarely, shambles is used as  a form of the verb shamble to indicate a type of awkward shuffling walk, as in "She shambles when she is nervous."
  • Our plan is in shambles.
  • The breakup left her in a shambles.
  • With most of her possessions gone and her beloved yard a shambles, she still took a lively and cordial interest in Jem's and my affairs.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • shambles = something in great disorder
  • That's guaranteed to turn that dance floor into a shambles.
    Athol Fugard  --  Master Harold...and the Boys
  • shambles = a condition of great disorder
  • When Jackie had borrowed the Dodge and started to drive back at 12:30, the town was a panicky shambles.
    Stephen King  --  Carrie
  • I take it most of Earth's a shambles, but the war goes on.
    Ray Bradbury  --  The Martian Chronicles
  • Pale and bruised, lean to the point of infirmity, he shambles toward the bed.
    Anthony Doerr  --  All the Light We Cannot See
  • It's hard to see because the place is a shambles, but it looks like they were growing in rows.
    Patrick Rothfuss  --  The Name of the Wind
  • "-a total shambles," the dark-haired guy was saying as I slid in.
    Sarah Dessen  --  Just Listen
  • O, ay; as summer flies are in the shambles, That quicken even with blowing.
    William Shakespeare  --  Othello, the Moor of Venice
  • And when they got out, most of those who were sick didn't get treated, mainly because Russia's huge civilian tb control system was itself in shambles.
    Tracy Kidder  --  Mountains Beyond Mountains
  • The elephant also stands and then shambles around to present Marlena with her tail.
    Sara Gruen  --  Water for Elephants
  • The victims return to their lives—which are often in shambles—and hours later I find myself face-to-face with the perpetrators.
    Jay Allison, et al.  --  This I Believe
  • Even so, Aringarosa's moment of glory was in shambles.
    Dan Brown  --  The Da Vinci Code
  • But the room was a dreadful shambles.
    Stephen King  --  The Shining
  • Kee-ripes, what a shambles!
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road
  • "Here now, chap, I daresay if it weren't for my charity, your standing would be a shambles and your family in the workhouse."
    Libba Bray  --  Sweet Far Thing
  • The place was a shambles.
    Walter Dean Myers  --  Hoops
  • Obviously the leadership was a shambles, and Bourne knew why.
    Robert Ludlum  --  The Bourne Supremacy
  • The retreat is a bloody shambles.
    Ian McEwan  --  Atonement

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list —®
Search for other examples by interest
General — Google News®
General — Time® Magazine
General — Wikipedia®
Architecture — Google® books - Architecture
Business — Bloomberg®
Business — The Economist®
Classic Literature — Google® books - Classical Literature
Engineering — Google® books - Engineering
Engineering — Popular Mechanics®
Engineering — Discover Magazine®
Fine Arts & Music — Google® books - Art
History — Google® books - History
Human Behavior — Google® books - Psychology
Human Behavior — Psychology Today®
Law — FindLaw®
Law — Google® books - Law
Logic & Reasoning — Google® books - Reasoning
Medicine — Web MD®
Medicine — Google® books - Medicine
Nature & Ecology — National Geographic®
Nature & Ecology — Google® books - Nature
Personal Finance — Kiplinger® (Personal Finance)
Philosophy — Google® books - Philosophy
Public Policy & Politics — Newsweek®
Public Policy & Politics — Real Clear Politics®
Public Policy & Politics — Google® books - Politics
Religion & Spirtuality — Google® books - Religion
Religion - Christianity — Bible Gateway®
Religion - Christianity — Google® books - Christianity
Science — Popular Science®
Science — Scientific American®
Science — Google® books - Science
Sports — Sports Illustrated®