Etymology
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shambles (n.)

"meat or fish market," early 15c., from schamil "table, stall for vending" (c. 1300), from Old English scamol, scomul "stool, footstool" (also figurative); "bench or stall in a market on which goods are exposed for sale, table for vending." Compare Old Saxon skamel "stool," Middle Dutch schamel, Old High German scamel, German schemel, Danish skammel "footstool." All these represent an early Proto-Germanic borrowing from Latin scamillus "low stool, a little bench," which is ultimately a diminutive of scamnum "stool, bench," from a PIE root *skmbh- "to prop up, support."

In English, the sense evolved from "place where meat is sold" to "slaughterhouse" (1540s), then figuratively "place of butchery" (1590s), and, generally, "confusion, mess" (1901, usually in plural).

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shambolic (adj.)

"chaotic, disorderly," 1961, apparently from shamble in the sense "disorder" (see shambles), perhaps on model of symbolic.

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footstool (n.)

also foot-stool, "stool, usually small and low, to rest the feet on while sitting," 1520s, from foot (n.) + stool. Earlier was fotsceomel, from Old English fotsceamel; for the second element of which see shambles. Figurative sense of "one who is the abject thrall of another" is from 1530s.

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shamble (v.)

"to walk with a shuffling gait, walk awkwardly and unsteadily," 1680s (implied in shambling), 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. Compare French bancal "bow-legged, wobbly" (of furniture), properly "bench-legged," from banc "bench." The noun meaning "a shambling gait" is from 1828. Related: Shambled.

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