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).

updated on August 03, 2022

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