The shambolic life of ‘shambles’

You just lost your job. Your partner broke up with you. You’re late on rent. Then, you dropped your iPhone in the toilet. “My life’s in shambles!” you shout. Had you so exclaimed, say, in an
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You just lost your job. Your partner broke up with you. You’re late on rent. Then, you dropped your iPhone in the toilet. “My life’s in shambles!” you shout. Had you so exclaimed, say, in an Anglo-Saxon village over 1,000 years ago, your fellow Old English speakers may have given you a puzzled look. “Your life’s in footstools?” they’d ask. “And what’s an iPhone?” Some centuries later, had you cried out your despair in Chaucer’s London, your Middle English-speaking compatriots may have given you some sympathy: “Yup, the meat market is a tough trade”. See, the word shambles has really changed over the years. Chaos, omnishambles, and chairs Today, shambles conveys a state of ‘confusion’ or ‘chaos’ – or a ‘hot mess’, more colloquially. The word enjoyed some special attention back in 2012. Then, Oxford Dictionaries named omnishambles – first used by Malcolm Tucker in the BBC’s The Thick of It – as its UK Word of the Year. The coinage later inspired the Twitter hashtag #RomneyShambles,. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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