The cliché: As journalists covered the heck out of a silly process story on a lazy August afternoon, they tried out a lot of different adjectives for it. How to describe the tiff between President Obama and Speaker Boehner over scheduling Obama's upcoming speech to a joint session of Congress? When Obama asked to speak at the same time as the Republican presidential debate, was it a "snafu"? When Boehner refused his request and asked him to consider the next day during an NFL game, was it a "spat"? Finally, Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post seemed to stumble upon a consensus-building choice while simultaneously shaking her head at the whole affair (though cover it she did.) "The world will little note nor long remember the Great Scheduling Kerfuffle," she wrote in a blog post this morning. Kerfuffle: a silly word for a silly news item. Later today, Rick Klein at ABC News wrote, "A kerfuffle over timing of a presidential speech has marred dreams of bipartisan comity in the coming weeks on Capitol Hill." And Jeff Poor at The Daily Caller wrote, "On Thursday’s 'Good Morning America' on ABC, [James] Carville joined his former Clinton administration colleague George Stephanopoulos [and] said that there were really no winners in the he said-he said kerfuffle between the White House and Speaker of the House John Boehner." (The words were Poor's, not Carville's.)
Where it come's from: Marcus seems to have led the charge applying the word to this particular non-news item. The word itself is of Scottish origins, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, which says it is an "alteration of carfuffle, from Scots car- (probably from Scottish Gaelic cearr wrong, awkward) + fuffle to become disheveled." Awkward, indeed.