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

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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 By Wednesday afternoon, hours after the social-media kerfuffle, Holy Mackerel canceled both Trump events and posted a mea culpa on its Facebook page. Phillip Valys,, "Beer brouhaha: Florida brewery cancels two Trump events after social media backlash," 8 Oct. 2020 And not even under-rock dwellers could have avoided the extended public kerfuffle when those monuments came tumbling down in 2017. Mike Scott,, "The history stored in Memorial Hall is controversial, but the building has a story of its own," 6 Oct. 2020 And that caused a brief kerfuffle on the Senate floor Friday. oregonlive, "Senate scuttles governor’s forestery board nominees; Sen. Golden denounces backroom dealing on natural resource nominees," 26 Sep. 2020 The kerfuffle over President Gerald Ford’s 1976 denial that the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe took days to walk back, chewing up time that could have been devoted to better issues for Ford. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Here We Go Again: Debates Start Tuesday," 23 Sep. 2020 Every selection season brings a new spate of headlines about a copyright kerfuffle involving candidates' unauthorized use of songs. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Trump and ‘Hallelujah’: Why it’s so hard to stop campaigns from playing songs, even when artists object," 31 Aug. 2020 Bruce Jenkins weighed in on Anderson and the Fernando Tatis kerfuffle. Henry Schulman,, "Joey Bart’s arrival echos Giants debuts of Clark, Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner," 26 Aug. 2020 Baldelli was referring to the kerfuffle on Monday night when San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. took a mighty swing on a 3-0 pitch and hit a grand slam when the Padres already led by seven runs over the Rangers. La Velle E. Neal Iii, Star Tribune, "Twins manager Rocco Baldelli says baseball's 'unwritten rules' should be unfollowed, too," 18 Aug. 2020 The latest kerfuffle over riverfront development at The Banks has the city and county moving forward separately on the construction of the same park at the same time. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, "Cranley wants Cincinnati to go ahead with Banks development, with or without the county," 3 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for kerfuffle

Time Traveler

The first known use of kerfuffle was in 1908

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Statistics for kerfuffle

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kerfuffle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on kerfuffle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kerfuffle

Britannica English: Translation of kerfuffle for Arabic Speakers

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