Words

kerfuffle, v. or n.
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"HOW LONG will this kerfuffle be going on? I'm trying to read the papers!" In peppery-colonel mode, I belaboured the thirtysomething husband and wife who had a nanny to quell their puling infant while a camera filmed them in the Fulham Road branch of the Seattle Coffee Company.

Only when they all left, with a smile - en route for the King's Road and Covent Garden branches - did I learn that these were the millionaire owners of the chain, in England to spearhead expansion across the country.

Only then did I realise what I had said. Well-nigh onomatopoeic, kerfuffle, a word I have used all my life, turns out to be the modern variant of curfuffle (or even gefuffle), a combination of Gaelic and lowland Scots, from the splendid fuffle, to twist about.

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