Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Bloody Origin of "Shambles"

Chicago Tribune language columnist Nathan Bierma writes about the curious word "shambles."
Its etymology is kind of grisly -- rather like that of dreary.

4 Comments:

OpenID travelrat said...

Hey, Martha!

There's several streets in British towns ... notably York and Kendal ... called 'The Shambles'

Great illustration of how the meaning of a word can change ... did you know a 'brawl' was originally a dance?

Keith

8:58 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

Hiya, travelrat. I imagine those street names indeed referred to the bloody business done there, no?

And I'm not aware of any evidence about brawl being linked to dancing. Where'd you see that?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Swift's "A Modest Proposal" a few days ago for a literature course, and it uses the word "shambles" to mean slaughterhouse.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

Ah. Nice example, Anonymous! Thanks.

11:47 AM  

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