Word of the day

The word for today is…

shambles (noun) – 1. (a) A scene or condition of complete disorder or ruin:.
b. Great clutter or jumble; a total mess.
2. (a) A place or scene of bloodshed or carnage.
(b) A scene or condition of great devastation.
3. A slaughterhouse.
4. (Archaic) A meat market or butcher shop.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : How does a word meaning “footstool” turn into a word meaning “mess”? Start with the Latin scamillum, meaning “little bench.” Modify the spelling and you get the Old English sceamol, meaning “footstool” or “a table used for counting money or exhibiting goods.” Alter again to the Middle English shameles, and the meaning can easily become more specific: “a table for the exhibition of meat for sale.” Pluralize and you have the base of the 15th-century term shambles, meaning “meat market.”

A century takes shambles from “meat market” to “slaughterhouse,” then to figurative use referring to a place of terrible slaughter or bloodshed (say, a battlefield). The scene of a slaughter can get messy, so it’s logical for the word to pick up the modern sense “mess” or “state of great confusion.” Transition accomplished.

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