July 01, 2015
January 16, 2014
All of us learn interesting new words along the way. But it's particularly fun when you discover something interesting about a word that has always been in use. For me this was – Shambles.
It wasn't until I read this BBC article on UK's oldest family-owned run businesses that I discovered that it is an old English term for "an open-air meat market where animals were slaughtered and blood would drip into the gutter on the street". According to the article and a dictionary search, because of the messy appearance – the word stuck and became associated with chaos/ mess. The dictionary today defines it - a state of total disaster.
For those interested, the word is derived from old English Scamul, shorthand for Latin Scamnum - meaning a stool or bench. It's easy to see why it was the old English term for Butchers shop (which usually was a bench with meat on it).
According to Wikipedia there are several streets in the UK named "The shambles" – probably because at some point in time they were butcher markets.
Do you have any such interesting words that you recently learnt? Or put meaning to well-known words? Please share it in the comments below.