kerfuffle

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

Technically a feud that began in 2017, the Jane Fonda versus Megyn Kelly debacle continued into 2018, and not only because Kelly ill-advisedly waded back into the kerfuffle. Bridget Read, Vogue, "This Was the Year of Celebrity Feuds," 26 Dec. 2018 Speaking to The Wall Street Journal after the kerfuffle, Mr. Spavor was unshaken, viewing the hockey game, the first inter-Korean sports match on Korean soil in nearly three years, as a hopeful omen for diplomacy. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "Cocktails With Kim: Canadian Detained in China Met North Korean Dictator," 13 Dec. 2018 Warren instantly started raising money off the kerfuffle. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "How did ‘likability’ become a thing for women in politics?," 18 Jan. 2019 Most of the kerfuffle was not about the money, but rather the wording of the post, which essentially called non-paying users thieves. Scott Gilbertson, Ars Technica, "A tour of elementary OS, perhaps the Linux world’s best hope for the mainstream," 28 Dec. 2018 So from a public-relations standpoint, the SEC comments and the kerfuffle afterwards were probably a mistake. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "Elon Musk doesn’t respect the SEC, which is still investigating Tesla," 14 Dec. 2018 Believe it or not, five prominent scholars who have been sharply divided over past courtroom kerfuffles over the Affordable Care Act are uniting in opposition to the health-care law’s latest challenge. Paige Winfield Cunningham, Washington Post, "The Health 202: Some of Obamacare's loudest critics are now defending the law in court," 15 June 2018 Business Insider caused something of a kerfuffle by reporting on comments made by Steve Jurczyk, NASA's associate administrator, at The Economist Space Summit. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Russia’s nuclear rocket, airspace wars, BFR changes explained," 30 Nov. 2018 That remains to be seen, but the Cardinals have a ways to go, in terms of controversy, to catch up with the kerfuffle their fellow National League Central foes created. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "Mother Nature must really hate baseball, America's national frost time," 16 Apr. 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

24 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for kerfuffle

The first known use of kerfuffle was in 1908

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More from Merriam-Webster on kerfuffle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kerfuffle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kerfuffle

Britannica English: Translation of kerfuffle for Arabic Speakers

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