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.