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

Despite their owners’ fretting, Chubbs, Jack, Louie and all the other dogs appear unaware that their joyful morning romp has caused such a kerfuffle. Jessica Contrera,, "Maryland dog park divides the rich and powerful," 28 Aug. 2019 But the kerfuffle around Hicks was the last thing on his mind. Scott Nover, Washington Post, "How reporters for niche publications conquered Capitol Hill," 27 Aug. 2019 Though the two had their occasional kerfuffles, the unraveling of one of the NFL’s great power duos began after Roethlisberger threw a late-game interception into the end zone against the Broncos. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Are AB’s ears burning? It might be Ben Roethlisberger discussing their split," 26 Aug. 2019 Noack said in the release that the project’s completion is expected by Friday, Aug. 9, with weather issues creating possible kerfuffles with scheduling. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "2 westbound lanes on Woodlands Parkway closed," 5 Aug. 2019 All this highlights a reality that’s easy to forget in the midst of a juicy quitting kerfuffle. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "The strange tale of the political staffer who quit on his boss’s Twitter account," 24 July 2019 The talks were preceded by a kerfuffle over the Blazer this spring. David Welch, Los Angeles Times, "GM’s Mexico-made Chevy Blazer becomes a political pariah for auto workers," 1 Aug. 2019 The recent kerfuffle over busing and public schools is a good reminder of the potential tension. Jay Cost, National Review, "How Republicans Can Appeal to the White Working Class," 25 July 2019 It’s been known officially as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel for the past three years since a legal kerfuffle over ownership of the name of that property and others at the park. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, "The Ahwahnee will be back; Yosemite settles lawsuit over hotel names," 15 July 2019

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

8 Sep 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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