So last weekend when we were still in Charleston, WV after watching one of the last shows of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Baily (AWESOME), we had the news on in the hotel room. A reporter was interviewing two basketball players after they’d gotten in a fight. Here’s the abbreviated form of the report

Reporter: So do you have anything to say about last night’s kerfuffle?
Player 1: That is a word right there. Say that again.
Reporter: Kerfuffle?
Player 2: Kerfuffle. I like that. Good job, dude.

Insert me and my children rolling in laughter. And Xoe exclaiming, “There’s your next Word of the Week!”

So, here we go. Kerfuffle.

At first glance, this word that means “a fuss or commotion” is really new. As in, from 1970. Which really shocked me. But as it happens, that’s just that particular spelling. The original spelling of the word was curfuffle, and it dates to 1813, first appearing in works by Scottish writers. Still newer than I thought, but that’s because it’s taken from a Scottish word.

Fuffle is a Scottish verb dating from the 1500s (muuuuch better!), which means “to throw into disorder.” The ker/cur was added to make it a noun in the same way that we see it on words like kersplat and kersplash–an onomatopoeia prefix meant to imitate the sound of something having fallen.

So there you have it, combative sports players–kerfuffle.

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