My room is a/in shambles?

What is the correct usage of the word “shambles”? (interesting: I didn’t know the word originally meant “slaughterhouse”)

  1. “My room is in shambles.” (this sounds correct to my ear)
  2. “My room is a shambles.” (this makes sense grammatically)
  3. “My room is in a shambles.” (this also makes sense grammatically)

Quick unscientific Google survey shows 50/50 for 1) and 2). The link has two examples using 2) and 3).

The few times I’ve used the word, it’s always 1). I fear my understanding is in shambles.

Can’t give a cite, but 2 sounds right to me. Infact, “This room is a shambles” sounds scarily familiar…

I’ve always used 2: 'god, look at the state of that - it’s a shambles. ’

2 and 3 shambles is like the word mess.

My room is a mess
or My room is in a mess.
both work fine.

I’d always use #1.

I don’t know, I’d feel very awkward using “shambles” as a singular noun, even though it very well might be. I know “shamble” doesn’t mean a sinlge of the collective “shambles”, but in my mind that seems right. So I would have to say “The room is a shamble” which is gibberish. So “The room is in shambles” as in the room is “in the state of shambles”.

I used to live in Shambles, so my room was always in Shambles.


A shambles was a place, so examples 2 and 3 are classically the correct ones.

But usage almost always extends meanings, and usage has over the years made a shambles a condition as well as a physical site. This makes example 1 proper.

So you can use all three examples; just make sure that you add the “a” when using shambles as a site.

I would take 2 and 3 to mean your room is a mess. But number 1, to me, would mean that a bomb or something went off inside your room and the building structure has physical damage.

That’s just me though…

I have no clue on “correct” usage, but here’s my personal opinion FWIW.

I’ve never heard anyone use example 1), and to me it sounds utterly wrong.

  1. sounds British to me but I’m not sure why I think that. It does sound a little off, and I don’t recall having heard anyone use that form more than a few times in my life.

I always use 3). It’s the form I hear everyone else use, not that it’s a common phrase anymore.

FTR, I’m a mid 40s American male who’s lived all over the US and done some overseas travel.

I’d say 3, but perhaps 2. Number one just sounds unheard and odd to me, I’m afraid. However it has a nice and cute sound to it, so I’ll think about adopting it. :slight_smile:

For everyone else whse home is always
in a shambles - cheer up, here are some pics of a very pretty Shambles. :slight_smile:

I always use ‘shambles’ in the same way I use ‘disarray’.

The room is in disarray.

The room is in shambles.

Hmmm…I never use the phrase myself, but I think #1 is how I normally hear it, and it does sound fine to my ears.

Noun plural but singular or plural in construction.

Since ‘shambles’ is a place, and singular in construction, 2 and 3 are correct, but there isn’t anything particularly wrong with 1… it just sounds a bit off.

Well, if you google “in shambles,” you do get lots of hits (202,000) including headlines from BBC and the Washington Post, so it’s not exactly a rare construction.