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Perhaps from shambles +‎ -o- +‎ -ic, in which the interconsonantal -o- avoids the /mbl/ consonant cluster. Possibly influenced by symbolic.

Alternatively, and more likely, a blend of shambles +‎ symbolic.



shambolic (comparative more shambolic, superlative most shambolic)

  1. Chaotic, disorganised or mismanaged. [from 1952]
    • 1952 April, The Tank[1], volume 34, number 396, London, page 231:
      [O]ne must admit there were those among us who were somewhat on the shambolic side.
    • 1958 December 5, “'Pavilion Would Help Clubs'”, in West Sussex County Times[2], Horsham, page 6:
      He said his club had coined a new word 'Shambolic,' which meant spending more time watching the weather than playing.
    • 1994, Timothy O'Riordan, James Cameron, “The History and Contemporary Significance of the Precautionary Principle”, in Tim O'Riordan, James Cameron, editors, Interpreting the Precautionary Principle, London: Earthscan, →ISBN, page 12:
      The precautionary principle is a culturally framed concept that takes its cue from changing social conceptions about the appropriate roles of science, economics, ethics, politics and the law in pro-active environmental protection and management. As this book will reveal, it is a rather shambolic concept, muddled in policy advice and subject to the whims of international diplomacy and the unpredictable public mood over the true cost of sustainable living.
    • 2000, China Miéville, Perdido Street Station, London: Macmillan Publishers, →ISBN, page 24:
      The pub was empty of all but the most dedicated drinkers, shambolic figures huddled over bottles.
    • 2013, Philip Murphy, “Winds of Change and the Royal Family”, in Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth, Oxford: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 66:
      The shabby subterfuge surrounding Suez [the Suez Crisis], as much as its shambolic aftermath, have made it a symbol of the collapse of British global power in the post-war era.
    • 2014 October 22, Graham Michael Barton, “Distribution”, in Show Me the Money: Where Did All the Aid and Money Go after Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines November 2013, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 5:
      During normal times, distribution of goods or services to over 7,000 islands [in the Philippines] is difficult, and the reality is that on a day-to-day basis, it's shambolic. There are too many examples of corruption and inefficiency.
    • 2020 May 6, Sir Michael Holden, “Time for our industry's leaders to rise to the challenge”, in Rail, page 28:
      New train introduction had become shambolic with extended delays - mainly due to repeated software issues, seriously late deliveries, and gauging problems.
    • 2020 September 28, New York Times Editorial Board, “The Picture of a Broken Tax System”, in New York Times[3]:
      Donald Trump’s tax returns illustrate the profound inequities of the tax code and the shambolic state of federal enforcement.

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