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Ramshackle is a word that first appeared in the early 1800s, and is believed to be an alteration of an older, Scottish word. We will examine the meaning of the word ramshackle, where it most probably came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Ramshackle describes something tumbledown, something in ruin or dilapidated. Most often, ramshackle is used to describe a building that needs repair or appears to be close to collapse. Interestingly, the term was originally rendered as ramshackled, a variant of the Scottish word ransackled meaning something that has been ransacked. The idea is of a place that has been torn to pieces, usually in the course of robbing the building. In time, the word came to mean a building in need of repair, usually because of neglect rather than because of a robbery attempt.


The $3 billion Bloomberg-era project to transform a neighborhood of broken streets and ramshackle auto repair shops across from Citi Field in Queens appeared dead in 2015, when a state court ruled that the city could not take a piece of Flushing Meadows Corona Park for a gigantic shopping mall and garage as it had planned. (The New York Times)

At night, they are confined to a ramshackle living quarters just beneath the tower — a sign explains that Syrian workers in Lebanon must respect a 7 p.m. curfew — where they stare at television and telephone-screen images of the war raging on back in their homeland. (The Hollywood Reporter)

As the pregnant clouds give birth to a heavy downpour, this news crew is prompted to scurry for cover and instead of being ushered into the house by our host, the singer opts for an interview in a ramshackle car which we gladly share with rats that have taken advantage of the comforts of the seats to breed. (The Herald)