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.


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?


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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