noun, informal
ker·​fuf·​fle | \ kər-ˈfə-fəl How to pronounce kerfuffle (audio) \
plural kerfuffles

Definition of kerfuffle

: a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited him perfectly.— J. K. Rowling It's not the only school with dress code issues; almost every week there's a local story about some kerfuffle over what kids wear to school.— Belinda Luscombe

The Evolution of Kerfuffle

Fuffle was first used in Scottish English, as early as the 16th century, as a verb meaning "to dishevel." The addition of the prefix car- (possibly derived from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning "wrong" or "awkward") didn't change the meaning of the word considerably. In the 19th century carfuffle, with its variant curfuffle, became a noun, and in the 20th century it was embraced by a broader population of English speakers and standardized to kerfuffle. There is some dispute among language historians over how the altered spelling came to be favored. One theory holds that it might have been influenced by imitative words like kerplunk, where the syllable ker- is simply added for emphasis.

Examples of kerfuffle in a Sentence

predictably, the royal scandal caused quite a kerfuffle on Fleet Street
Recent Examples on the Web But often that attention devolved into the unwanted kind—an uproar over the Squad’s defense of Palestine or a kerfuffle with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kara Voght, The New Republic, 4 Jan. 2022 In the early morning hours of March 14, 2019, hours after the JCPS Closings Twitter page pointed out the Google kerfuffle, someone began making tweaks to the Marty Pollio Wikipedia page. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, 9 Dec. 2021 Peloton gets into a little PR kerfuffle, and who is there to profit? Bethy Squires, Vulture, 12 Dec. 2021 Still, the presidential palace has neither publicly announced the change nor instructed other institutions to follow suit, likely to avoid any kerfuffle around it. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 15 Nov. 2021 Cruz summed up his thoughts about the Big Bird kerfuffle with a tweet Saturday night. Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2021 Instead, Patterson continued to assign blame to SMU for the kerfuffle, which has added even more spice to the rivalry between two schools battling for recruits and recognition inside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 28 Sep. 2021 But the notion of competing festivals has one local artist, and a longtime Gulf Shores Shrimp Festival participant, wondering if participants could get caught up in a political kerfuffle. al, 8 Oct. 2021 The Labour Party’s convention last week was marked by internecine feuding between economic moderates and leftists and a culture-war kerfuffle over who can have a cervix. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 5 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kerfuffle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of kerfuffle

1908, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kerfuffle

alteration of carfuffle, from Scots car- (probably from Scottish Gaelic cearr wrong, awkward) + fuffle to become disheveled

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The first known use of kerfuffle was in 1908

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Last Updated

7 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Kerfuffle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on kerfuffle

Britannica English: Translation of kerfuffle for Arabic Speakers


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