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[sham-buh l] /ˈʃæm bəl/
verb (used without object), shambled, shambling.
to walk or go awkwardly; shuffle.
a shambling gait.
Origin of shamble2
1675-85; perhaps short for shamble-legs one that walks wide (i.e., as if straddling), reminiscent of the legs of a shamble1 (in earlier sense “butcher's table”) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for shambled
Historical Examples
  • Snath shambled away with a last malignant look at Bobby that was full of threats of vengeance in the future.

    Bobby Blake on a Plantation Frank A. Warner
  • They slouched and shambled, some even tottered, as from weakness or drink.

  • He made a revoltingly inhuman sound as he shambled away, a kind of throaty yelp.

    The Wonder J. D. Beresford
  • Billy shambled off in high spirits; but Eric sank back into his chair.

    Eric, or Little by Little Frederic W. Farrar
  • And with that he swung the empty sacks across his back again and shambled away into the growing darkness.

    Little Peter Lucas Malet
  • The convict, giving no heed to this, shambled out with a guard and the surgeon.

  • On he shambled, knocking against the flag-stones, and nearly precipitating himself down areas and unguarded passage-ways.

  • I shambled out behind him, and wiped my forehead in the hall.

    Actions and Reactions Rudyard Kipling
  • He shambled painfully to his feet amid a silence that was awful.

    The Clansman Thomas Dixon
  • "It's the Honourable Rossi," said a lad who had shambled up.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for shambled


(intransitive) to walk or move along in an awkward or unsteady way
an awkward or unsteady walk
Derived Forms
shambling, adjective, noun
Word Origin
C17: from shamble (adj) ungainly, perhaps from the phrase shamble legs legs resembling those of a meat vendor's table; see shambles
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shambled



"to walk with a shuffling gait, walk awkwardly and unsteadily," 1680s, from an adjective meaning "ungainly, awkward" (c.1600), from shamble (n.) "table, bench" (see shambles), perhaps on the notion of the splayed legs of bench, or the way a worker sits astride it. Cf. French bancal "bow-legged, wobbly" (of furniture), properly "bench-legged," from banc "bench." The noun meaning "a shambling gait" is from 1828. Related: Shambled; shambling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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