1 [sham-buhl]
shambles, (used with a singular or plural verb)
a slaughterhouse.
any place of carnage.
any scene of destruction: to turn cities into shambles.
any scene, place, or thing in disorder: Her desk is a shambles.
British Dialect. a butcher's shop or stall.

before 900; Middle English shamel, Old English sc(e)amel stool, table < Late Latin scamellum, Latin scamillum, diminutive of Latin scamnum bench; compare German Schemel Unabridged


2 [sham-buhl]
verb (used without object), shambled, shambling.
to walk or go awkwardly; shuffle.
a shambling gait.

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. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shamble (ˈʃæmbəl)
1.  (intr) to walk or move along in an awkward or unsteady way
2.  an awkward or unsteady walk
[C17: from shamble (adj) ungainly, perhaps from the phrase shamble legs legs resembling those of a meat vendor's table; see shambles]
adj, —n

shambles (ˈʃæmbəlz)
1.  a place of great disorder: the room was a shambles after the party
2.  a place where animals are brought to be slaughtered
3.  any place of slaughter or carnage
4.  dialect (Brit) a row of covered stalls or shops where goods, originally meat, are sold
[C14 shamble table used by meat vendors, from Old English sceamel stool, from Late Latin scamellum a small bench, from Latin scamnum stool]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"to walk with a shuffling gait," 1681, from an adj. meaning "ungainly, awkward" (1607), 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. Fr. bancal "bow-legged, wobbly" (of furniture),
prop. "bench-legged," from banc "bench."

late 15c., "meat or fish market," from schamil "table, stall for vending" (c.1300), from O.E. scomul, sceamel "stool, footstool, table for vending," an early W.Gmc. borrowing (cf. O.S. skamel, M.Du. schamel, O.H.G. scamel, Ger. schemel) from L. scamillus "low stool," ultimately a dim. of scamnum "stool,
bench," from PIE base *skabh- "to prop up, support." In English, sense evolved to "slaughterhouse" (1540s), "place of butchery" (1590s), and "confusion, mess" (1901).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He added that the higher-education system was in a shambles because of frequent
  monetary reductions.
Go while people remember your achievements, not when they blame you for the
  shambles you leave behind.
As if the world economy isn't in shambles as it is currently, flooding the
  market with diamonds can't help matters too much.
Forgot to mention, however, the economy is in shambles.
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