A dust-up

I’ve been thinking about the word kerfuffle. It’s one of those words that sounds just like what it is. It isn’t an onomatopoeia exactly, because a kerfuffle doesn’t make a specific sound. But the word has in it for me the noise of chickens beating their wings as they flap about the courtyard due to a disturbance. It has in it sounds of fluff, and ruffle, and fisticuff. The soft puff of dust clouds being thrown up by stamping feet, or by bodies rolling on the ground during a tussle. All that imagery in just three syllables.

It’s not a very old word, documented only since 1813 in the Scots version, curfuffle, of which our American English is a variation. It’s defined as “disorder, flurry, agitation.” I’d advise poets against it, as it poses rhyming challenges.

There once was a mighty kerfuffle
When a guy tried to pilfer Sal’s truffle.
“That chocolate’s for me!
So kiss off and flee,
Or your body will inhabit my duffle.”

I clearly have partaken of too many books, shows and movies about murder. While I’m serious about my chocolate, I wouldn’t really kill for a good truffle. Not even a great one.

About Verla

Wordfreak. Retired private investigator and Spanish court interpreter. Erstwhile librarian. Texan by birth, cheesehead by upbringing, latina by soul, in New Mexico by choice. Lover of things purple. Passionate participant in the Librivox audiobook recording project. We record books that are in the public domain in the U.S. The recordings are then placed in the public domain themselves.
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