No Hyphen in “Ramshackled”

By Maeve Maddox

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When I saw “ram-shackled” used to describe a boat. the image of a boat chained to a ram sprang immediately to mind.

Both ramshackle and ramshackled are used to describe a building or other fairly large object in a state of extreme disrepair.

The word started out as ransackled and is related to such words as ransom and sack (as in “to pillage.”)

I’ve also seen ramshackle/ramshackled written as two words:

Ram-shackled economies –headline at the New Statesman

Factories in China range from some of the most modern in the world to small ram shackled facilities. –story at the Huffington Post

Both ramshackle and ramshackled should be written as one word.

Unless, of course, you are making a pun, as the writer of this Washington Post headline was doing:

The Redskins’ Defense Is Shredded For 579 Yards in an Overtime Loss

The opposing team was the St. Louis Rams.

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6 Responses to “No Hyphen in “Ramshackled””

  • Gildawie

    “ram-shackled” would be chained to a SHEEP
    If chained to a goat, the term would be “billy-shackled”

  • Maeve


  • Statler

    where did the ‘goat’ reference come from? Maeve’s first sentence refers to a boat not a goat… or is this just way too subtle for me?

  • Maeve

    I cheated and got rid of the goat. I knew better!

  • rod

    Gildawie It was actually too subtle for you , Staler meant ram as a male sheep
    “shackled to a ram”

  • rod

    ooops I switched names

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