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shambolic (2)

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:51 am
by Ken Greenwald
Happy New Year to one and all!
<2020 “Huge, sometimes violent protests began erupting across Iraq in October, as people angry about unemployment, corruption and shambolic public services poured into the streets.”—, 1 January>
Shambolic is a new one on me and so to start the new year right, rather than letting it slip by as I get lazier and lazier, I decided to shape up and hop to it!

shambolic adjective (Chiefly British Informal [[Note: After doing archive searches for my quotes below, it appears to me that it is now in fairly common use in the U.S.]]

Definition: Disordered, disorganized, chaotic, confused, unkempt, untidy, messy, undisciplined, mismanaged. <The country’s transportation system is in a shambolic state.><I’ve had a shambolic year, the worst ever.><John lived in a stylishly shambolic artist's studio.>

Etymology: Probably from ‘shambles’ – a scene of great disorder, etc. (perhaps after English ‘symbolic’)

First Known Use: Reported to be ‘in common use’ in 1958, but first use found in print is 1970.

(Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary,,,

The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1970 “His office in Printing House Square is so impeccably tidy that it is . . . a standing reproach to the standard image of shambolic newspaper offices.”—Times (London), 18 June, page 9>

<1978 “We may have a shambolic landing, Jean. I want you to go right through the aircraft reminding people about the emergency drill.”—News Caper by R. Jansson, xiii., page 110>

<1990 “‘One needn’t look far to see instances where elected officials have engaged in financial chicanery and/or shambolic accountancy in an effort to balance budgets or win reelection,’Zurell said.”—Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), 26 September, page 183> [[It’s crossed the ocean!]]

<2002 “For better and for worse, Ryan Adams is about as immersed as you can be in the myths and traditions of rock’n’roll. He just doesn’t celebrate it, he elevates it to a Great Truth. . . There is no Great Truth of rock’n’roll, of course, except maybe this: the flaws matter little if you believe in it, and by the end of this sometimes shambolic, sometimes sublime show, you knew he believed.”—The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia), 24 January, page 13>

<2011 “Tributes to Back to Black singer [[Amy Winehouse]] continued to pour in. Her talent was eclipsed over recent years by her battles with drugs and alcohol and her last stage appearances had been derided as shambolic.”—The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada),27 July, 2011>

<2019 “He narrates the book, along with a future Gordon, and Gordon’s parents, both therapists at Topeka’s prominent psychiatric clinic, navigating the twists of their shambolic marriage and fits of temper from their adolescent son.”—The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 24 November, page F8> [[Book review of the recently released novel, The Topeka School.]]

Ken Greenwald – January 1, 2020

Re: shambolic

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:24 am
by Phil White
A happy new year to you as well, Ken! And to all our readers and contributors.

"Shambolic" is another one of those that I don't remember ever being absent from the language, although I would generally associate it not with, for instance, an untidy office, but with an event or organization that is (usually disastrously) badly and amateurishly managed. In other words, the figurative use has, in my little world, entirely supplanted any more literal meaning. I may talk about a meeting, a rock festival, a political party, a government or a war as being shambolic, but not a house, a room or a studio. Perhaps it's just my idiolect.

Re: shambolic

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:35 pm
by Bobinwales
Please accept my best wishes for the New Year to all the Wizards.

I cannot remember a time when "shambolic" was not in my vocabulary, it was especially useful when I became involved in politics.

Re: shambolic

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:20 am
by trolley
Like Ken, I just added it to my vocabulary today and I'm not sure...but I may have witnessed some children acting in a gambolic manner as I drove past the schoolyard, on my way into work this morning.

Re: shambolic

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:04 am
by gdwdwrkr
The unfortunate Keystone Cops of Iran seem bent on illustrating shambolism.

Re: shambolic (2)

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:23 pm
by Ken Greenwald
You may have noticed that I have retitled this posting "shambolic (2)." That is because on January 7, 2008, I posted "shambolic" which is now designated as "shambolic (1). How soon we forget! :( That was only two years ago. Senility must be setting in.! But I should mention that no one else pointed this out to me either! Is this a sign of our aging community? (<:)

Ken Greenwald - January 13, 2020

Re: shambolic (2)

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:47 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Sorry, Ken... You were saying?

Re: shambolic (2)

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:26 pm
by Phil White
Ken Greenwald wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:23 pm
But I should mention that no one else pointed this out to me either!
Pointed what out to you?

Re: shambolic (2)

Posted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:10 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Everything is new again!