Definition of shamble in US English:



  • no object, with adverbial of direction (of a person) move with a slow, shuffling, awkward gait.

    ‘he shambled off down the corridor’
    • ‘She turned and watched Alex shamble into the room.’
    • ‘As they watched, one of the players shambled over to the jukebox and fed a handful of coins into it.’
    • ‘The tunes still shamble and the lyrics still ramble.’
    • ‘Inside, we find shambling, carefully sculpted poetics that take full advantage of their capacity to surprise and startle: No two pages look the same; the text kinetically rambles over the available surface area.’
    • ‘A projection screen flickers into life and Hope Of The States shamble onstage in that endearingly scruffy way that seems rather at odds with their borderline-highbrow music.’
    • ‘Rae turned and saw a waiter, dressed in a clean blue uniform, shamble towards their table.’
    • ‘The dog-eyed man shambled resignedly away in search of a new target.’
    • ‘Dressed in rags, with haggard faces, Maddock watched them shamble by.’
    • ‘After the short ceremony, these loutish tourists shambled off in their jeans and high nuisance-factor anoraks.’
    • ‘The fact that they moved by relentlessly shambling along is part of what gave them a creepy effect.’
    • ‘His walk shambled, shuffled, and skidded along the tiles, and as he did it he felt the heat of shame rising on the back of his neck in a nearly-tangible red cloud that matched the orange sunrise of his attire.’
    • ‘Instead of falling dead, though, the figure shambled after his head.’
    • ‘Here are a few more for your brain to chew on, so shamble on over to your reading glasses, moan slightly, drool and then put them on and get ready to have your stereotypical costume that you were killed in get blown completely off!’
    • ‘An almost matronly St. John shambled out onto the Jane Mallett Theatre stage in a wrinkled pigeon-colored number that had to be one of the ugliest frocks to see stage lights this season.’
    • ‘Clips and graphics are stitched together with a droll, deadpan voiceover and often a declamatory musical score, though Moore's ursine baseball-capped form does not itself shamble into view until well into the film.’
    • ‘Granted, they still shamble, but it seems they've started to think, to use tools and to react to their environment.’
    • ‘Josh Davis has just shambled on to the stage, pottering about and digging through a tatty backpack for cartridges and CDs.’
    • ‘We start with a blond, long-haired young man shambling through the woods, mumbling to himself.’
    • ‘A second later, a large woman shambled out into the darkness.’
    • ‘Here we are shambling and wounded and lonely at the end of the world.’
    shuffle, lumber, totter, dodder, stumble
    ungainly, lumbering, shuffling, awkward, clumsy, uncoordinated, heavy-footed
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  • A slow, shuffling, awkward gait.

    • ‘Fans are used to Young's laid-back stage presence, the hunched shoulders, eyes often masked by cap or hat, the trademark shamble and lurch.’
    • ‘After two minutes of stumbling, the song switches gears, grinding against itself before going for a brief jaunt, and then concluding with a reprisal of the introductory shamble.’
    • ‘Each January I pause, in my shamble toward senility, to honor some of the people, things and events I've written about in the previous 12 months.’
    • ‘It began its slow shamble towards the car, ignoring the headlights that cut through the fog in front of it and shone in its eyes.’


Late 16th century: probably from dialect shamble ‘ungainly’, perhaps from the phrase shamble legs, with reference to the legs of trestle tables (such as would be used in a meat market: see shambles).