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

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 Given Noah’s social media kerfuffle with Kanye West, viewers should also be attuned to any biting commentary. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2022 Then, when Charlotte was in the sixth form, there was a kerfuffle at the surgery and Marlene lost her job. Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 Rudy Gay even led off his postgame media session by asking about the Hollywood kerfuffle. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Mar. 2022 Is Hornsby still convinced Hilltop was involved in the kerfuffle? Dalton Ross,, 4 Apr. 2022 No sooner had that back and forth abated -- for the time being -- than this kerfuffle with Johnson sprung up, drawing swift Democratic condemnation. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 8 Mar. 2022 The kerfuffle surrounding an embarrassing Twitter photo of the Portland Pickles mascot drew more laughs Friday night, thanks to Stephen Colbert. oregonlive, 15 Jan. 2022 The news that DiCaprio was paid $5 million more than co-star Jennifer Lawrence has the potential to cause a kerfuffle, but Lawrence has done her best to downplay the drama. Nate Jones, Vulture, 26 Nov. 2021 But there were challenges, including the messy US withdrawal from Afghanistan, tensions with Russia and China, as well as and a major diplomatic kerfuffle with France over nuclear submarines. Maegan Vazquez, CNN, 22 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of kerfuffle was in 1908

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Kerguelen cabbage

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Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Kerfuffle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on kerfuffle

Britannica English: Translation of kerfuffle for Arabic Speakers


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