Not a word I am familiar with, although Erik Kowal used it in his posting Apologies back in 2004:“Overseas, Trump has pounded ISIS to the brink of defeat [[fake fact?]], taken a tough line with Iran and North Korea, and finally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ‘None of this is to deny Trump’s failings’; he remains a deeply divisive figure, with ‘a shambolic governing style.’”—The Week, 18 January, page 6>
<2004 “Their poor, pathetic, stunted, stumbling, shambolic efforts deserve to be trumpeted across the Internet.”—Apologies, Wordwizard, Erik Kowal, 11 March>
shambolic adjective (chiefly British) [[aha!]]:
1) unkempt, untidy, disordered
2) chaotic, disorderly, undisciplined.
3) disorganized or mismanaged.
Etymology: Probably from alteration of shambles: a scene of great disorder.
According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary its first known use was in 1970. However, the Oxford English Dictionary says “Reported to be ‘in common use’ in 1958.”
Frequency (in current use): 3 out of a possible 8.
Note: Older dictionaries (e.g. 2001 edition of Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and the 2006 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary) don’t even list it and some newer dictionaries list it as British slang, colloquial, and informal. However, from an abundance of recent new quotes I’ve seen it appears to me to have gone mainstream in Britain, but very, very rarely appears in the U.S..
(Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, Wikipedia, and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary)
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
______________________________<1970 “His office in Printing House Square is so impeccably tidy that it is . . . a standing reproach to the standard image of shambolic newspaper offices.”—The Times (London), 18 June page 9>
<1975 “The average listener is in the position of anybody who encounters an organization at work for the first time. It may appear shambolic but how much is that because he hasn't yet made sense of it.”—The Times (London), 14 June, page 8/5>
<1978 “We may have a shambolic landing, Jean. I want you to go right through the aircraft reminding people about the emergency drill.”—News Caper by R. Jansson, xiii., page 110>
<1980 “It will continue in a much more shambolic manner than the urbanization that has occurred in the Western World.”—The Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, July, page 509/1>
<1990 “ At the end of 1989 member countries were $461m in arrears on the general budget of the UN and $447m in arrears on its peacekeeping budgets. Part of this is owed by shambolic countries whose national budgets are in just as much of a mess.”—The Economist (U.S.), 27 January>
<2000 “The Tories seized on the news, attacking Byers' 'shambolic approach'.”—The Daily Mail (London), 5 March>
<2014 “He spent eight weeks in hospital after his operation when the Turners say his care veered from shambolic to scandalous, and lead to their boy's death.”— The People (London), 12 January>
<2018 “His opening defeat at Watford was shambolic, on and off the pitch, with fans abusing players and directors and voicing disapproval of the manager who took Sunderland down last season.”—The Mirror (London), 5 January>
Ken Greenwald — January 7, 2018