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[sham-buh l] /ˈʃæm bəl/
verb (used without object), shambled, shambling.
to walk or go awkwardly; shuffle.
a shambling gait.
Origin of shamble2
1675-85; perhaps short for shamble-legs one that walks wide (i.e., as if straddling), reminiscent of the legs of a shamble1 (in earlier sense “butcher's table”) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shambled
Historical Examples
  • "It's the Honourable Rossi," said a lad who had shambled up.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • Brother Peter shambled out, and then Paul and Greta were left alone.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • A gaunt old fellow, with only one arm, shambled into the room.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • Peter grumbled something beneath his breath and shambled out.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • A small, shabby man arose from a bench and shambled forward.

    The Crimson Tide Robert W. Chambers
  • Thornly watched him from the open door until he shambled from sight.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock
  • Kagh shambled around the tree, his nose to the ground as if hunting for something.

  • "We shall see," was all he said, and he rose and shambled away.

    The Plum Tree David Graham Phillips
  • They slouched and shambled, some even tottered, as from weakness or drink.

  • Without a backward look he shambled down the hill with the others.

    Hellhounds of the Cosmos Clifford Donald Simak
British Dictionary definitions for shambled


(intransitive) to walk or move along in an awkward or unsteady way
an awkward or unsteady walk
Derived Forms
shambling, adjective, noun
Word Origin
C17: from shamble (adj) ungainly, perhaps from the phrase shamble legs legs resembling those of a meat vendor's table; see shambles
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shambled



"to walk with a shuffling gait, walk awkwardly and unsteadily," 1680s, from an adjective meaning "ungainly, awkward" (c.1600), from shamble (n.) "table, bench" (see shambles), perhaps on the notion of the splayed legs of bench, or the way a worker sits astride it. Cf. French bancal "bow-legged, wobbly" (of furniture), properly "bench-legged," from banc "bench." The noun meaning "a shambling gait" is from 1828. Related: Shambled; shambling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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