noun, informal
ker·fuf·fle | \kər-ˈfə-fəl \
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

Tester, a more conservative Democrat, drew the ire of Trump earlier this year during the kerfuffle over the president’s pick to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "From California House races to women winning big, 9 things to know about Tuesday's primaries," 7 June 2018 Getting the bridge built unleashed fresh kerfuffles. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "His namesake bridge cost $2M but carries only hikers and bikers," 1 June 2018 After a brief kerfuffle Boli was dismissed, leaving the Rapids shorthanded before the second half even began. Glynn A. Hill, Houston Chronicle, "Dynamo dominate Colorado Rapids for shutout victory," 9 June 2018 Another, Larry Sofield, says the coupon kerfuffle might have cost Salamon the respect of his employees. Susannah Bryan,, "Bundt cake tantrum could cost this guy his $204,000 job," 29 June 2018 The kerfuffle delayed the flight’s scheduled departure time by an hour and 15 minutes, as flight attendants resolved the issue, witness and Israeli rapper Khen Rotem wrote on Facebook. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Israeli airline to boot passengers who refuse to sit next to women," 28 June 2018 There’s a kerfuffle when a cow steals a bunch of bananas and, up the street towards the old fort, the gunmaker is putting Purdey’s to shame. Victoria Mather, A-LIST, "India Files: the Princely Grandeur of Rajasthan," 20 June 2018 Worse, however, was the likelihood that the kerfuffle would draw the scrutiny of the US Securities and Exchange Commission to the whole ICO apparatus. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018 Tune in to find out what various kerfuffles the quirky former hostage and her New York motley crew are causing this year. Noor Brara, Vogue, "Here’s What to Watch This Summer on TV," 21 May 2018

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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Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for kerfuffle

The first known use of kerfuffle was in 1908

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