Lookups for kerfuffle increased 500% on June 7th, 2016, after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used the word in reference to the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s recent attacks on Gonzalo Curiel, the U.S. District Court Judge overseeing the Trump University case.
Christie insisted that Trump's claim that Curiel's "Mexican heritage" presented "an absolute conflict" to his ability to perform his job was not racism.
"The fact is, the media loves controversy, the media loves to pay attention to this stuff and to work it up," Christie said. "I understand why. I’ve lived with that over the course of time, too, but the fact of the matter is people who are going to vote today in New Jersey and people who are going to vote in November are not going to make their decisions based on this kerfuffle."
—Nick Gass, Politico.com, 7 July 2016
Although kerfuffle gained prominence in the mid-20th century, it was in occasional use earlier. At the very beginning of the 20th century the word was used on a handful of occasions by Alice Perrin, a British novelist. Her 1908 novel The Stronger Claim used a common variant of the word, kafuffle: “Suppose we had been two young bachelors from the regiment”—he winked at Selma—“and you had come home too soon! My!—what a kafuffle there would have been!”
The word means "a disturbance or fuss." It is more commonly encountered in British English than American, and is formed in part from the older Scottish word fuffle, meaning “to dishevel."
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