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

One of the more memorable Sox-on-Sox kerfuffles took place at old Yankee Stadium in 1996, and Nationals manager Dave Martinez — then with the Sox — reminisced about it Tuesday before the Sox-Nats game. Paul Sullivan,, "3 things to watch for in the White Sox-Yankees series, including Eloy Jimenez channeling his inner Dick Allen and Lucas Giolito eyeing win No. 10," 13 June 2019 That decision set off a brief kerfuffle with the Irish government, which wanted the meeting between Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Trump to take place somewhere more formal. Washington Post, "The other royal family? Trump adult kids take London," 4 June 2019 On April 4, the team engaged in the whole kerfuffle with a long, funny, and heartfelt thread about Keiley. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Instagram Account Originally Belonged to Someone Else Until They Took Over," 4 Apr. 2019 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

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

14 Jul 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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