Originally a word for a slaughterhouse, shambles now usually means "one heck of a mess," as in "You were supposed to clean your room, but it's still a shambles!"

When the job market is in a shambles, people have trouble finding work. When a supermarket is in a shambles, there might be melons and milk spilled all over the floor. If everyone in a classroom is talking and yelling at once, the class is a shambles because no one can hear each other or get any work done. People say things are "in shambles" or "a shambles" — they mean the same thing. However you say it, a shambles is chaotic, disorderly, out of hand, and off the hook — a major, five-alarm mess.

Definitions of shambles
  1. noun
    a condition of great disorder
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    type of:
    disorder, disorderliness
    a condition in which things are not in their expected places
  2. noun
    a building where animals are butchered
    synonyms: abattoir, butchery, slaughterhouse
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    type of:
    building, edifice
    a structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place
Word Family