116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Words: Kerfuffles, hoo-has and hurly-burlies
I've gotten a lot of laughter/disdain/pity from readers and colleagues over my use of the word kerfuffle earlier this week.
It is, I would argue, a perfect word for what I wished to describe, because, as commenter CableHills wrote: "According to the Urban Dictionary [a must bookmark] a kerfuffle is 'A social imbroglio or brouhaha. An organizational misunderstanding leading to accusations and defensiveness.' and 'Smaller than a contretemps, larger than a snag, involving more people or things than a SNAFU or a stink.'"
Michael Quinion, a lexicographer of sorts in England, has a brief but interesting discussion of the origins of the word here. Not much is known, but the experts' best guess is it came from Scotland.
What strikes me most is how funny many of the words are that describe a minor organizational controversy, something Linn County government seems to consistently generate (salaries, feasibility studies, election candidates, overtime, etc.). Here are some of the other words, www.synonyms.net, that can describe these episodes. Aside from the obvious ones -- disturbance, disruption, commotion, interruption -- they're all pretty funny:
flutter, hurly burly, to-do, hoo-ha, hoo-hah, flap, flicker, ruction, rumpus, folie, interruption, whirl, din, fray, flutter, ruffle, affray, perturbation, upset, tumult, ruckus, kerfuffle.
It is a little worrisome, however, that definition #7 in the Urban Dictionary for kerfuffle is "a cough that makes you fart."
Next time, I'll use the word rumpus.