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

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,, "Mother Nature must really hate baseball, America's national frost time," 16 Apr. 2018 Thanks in part to this kerfuffle, the Palapa is selling briskly in Mexico, and may soon be retailed abroad. Linda Dyett, The Seattle Times, "Hats are big this summer. Really, really big," 16 Aug. 2018 So what’s with the kerfuffle over breaded chicken slathered with tomato sauce and melted cheese? Mike Cherney, WSJ, "Crikey, Bruce, Our Aussie Lingo Has Gone Walkabout," 2 Aug. 2018 One of the most recent kerfuffles involved the announcement that Midnight, Texas creator Monica Owusu-Breen was working with Joss Whedon on a new version of his signature show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot showrunner clarifies: it’s not a reboot," 27 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for kerfuffle

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

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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

Comments on kerfuffle

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