kerfuffle

noun, informal ker·fuf·fle \ kər-ˈfə-fəl \
Updated on: 7 Nov 2017

Definition of kerfuffle

plural kerfuffles
: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

kerfuffle was our Word of the Day on 08/01/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of kerfuffle in a Sentence

  1. predictably, the royal scandal caused quite a kerfuffle on Fleet Street

Recent Examples of kerfuffle from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of kerfuffle

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



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