Trend Watch

'Bumfuzzled' By the Whole Thing

When things just don't make sense

Bumfuzzle was one of our most searched for words after many people encountered the word in The New York Times and found themselves, well, bumfuzzled (the word means “to confuse, perplex, or fluster”).

“I’m bumfuzzled by the whole thing,” said Mr. Georgas, now the president of Cravens. “I don’t think she’ll win the state. But I think she’ll close the margin closer than anybody has.”
—Manny Fernandez, The New York Times, 24 Oct. 2016

We are not entirely certain where bumfuzzle comes from; one possibility is that it is descended from dumbfound, which became dumfoozle, and then bumfoozle, before settling on the spelling articulated in this article.

Bumfuzzle appears to have originated in the American south in the middle of the 19th century, and despite the ease with which it rolls off the tongue, and the delight it elicits in well-nigh everyone who hears it, has not managed to escape its dialectical roots and enter into everyday use.

Everything sent over the wires in relation to it is of that provoking style that old Bullion used to call the “willy—wonty—donty—canty.” It’s all “perhaps”—“perchance”—“may-be”—“seemingly,” and other nice verbal dodges. The idea seems to be to completely bumfuzzle the people, if we may be allowed so classical an expression.
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling, WV), 27 Sept. 1858

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.

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