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What does the term mean and what is the best way to use it? And, I also wanted to know if there is any information about where it comes from. And by the way, how do we pronounce it?

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Pronunciation: ker-PLOO-ee. (I normally see it spelled as "kerplooey".) –  Hellion Jan 17 '13 at 14:57
    
I spell it kaplooie if I have to spell it at all. The ker- vs ka- is probably about being rhotic or not. I don't think either group sounds the R in it. –  Kate Gregory Jan 17 '13 at 15:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's an onomatopoeic term for an explosion or perhaps something collapsing in an horrendous cascade of messiness.

Things were going well until lunch, and then a bunch of error reports made my whole day go kerplewy. [My day got messed up badly].

The children's room is kerplewy. [The room is such a mess that explosions are referenced as hyperbole].

It use is normally half-joking, certainly informal.

A variant is kablooie as in "Horrendous Space Kablooie", a term used in a comic for the Big Bang that some scientists prefer. Mostly because they have a sense of humour, but also because "Big Bang" was coined to ridicule the theory, not to name it.

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The variant that seems to be included in by far the most dictionaries is kerflooey. Merriam-Webster dates it back to 1918. Wiktionary lists the alternative spellings kerflewie and kerflewy. –  RegDwigнt Jan 17 '13 at 13:57
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I think kablooey is the more usual spelling. –  Matt Эллен Jan 17 '13 at 13:59
    
@RegDwighт I would interpret that slightly differently - less explosive and more a matter of falling apart. It's perhaps reasonable to say "they're much the same, but sound different" since sound is obviously key to an onomatopoeic word. –  Jon Hanna Jan 17 '13 at 14:55
    
@MattЭллен Google ngrams seems to agree with you in favouring kablooey over kablooie, though in talking about the HSK it's more often kablooie since that was the spelling used in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that coined it. –  Jon Hanna Jan 17 '13 at 14:56
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Matching what @Matt says, COCA has 9 kablooey, 6 kerflooey, 3 kablooie, 0 kerflewy, 0 kerplewy. COHA has 4, 0, 1, 0, 0. BNC has no hits for anything. –  RegDwigнt Jan 17 '13 at 15:21

kerplewy is ker- + blooey. The OED says:

ker-, prefix. Forms: Also occasionally ke-, ca-, ka-, che-, co-. U.S. vulgar. The first element in numerous onomatopœic or echoic formations intended to imitate the sound or the effect of the fall of some heavy body, as kerchunk, kerflop, kerplunk, kerslam, kerslap, kerslash, kersouse, kerswash, kerswosh, kerthump, kerwhop, etc.

And:

blooey, adj. Forms: Also blooie. U.S. slang. Awry, amiss.

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I would take that vulgar cum grano salis, and think more of the vulgus than of coarse slang. –  tchrist Jan 17 '13 at 15:09
    
I've never heard of kersouse. –  Jim Jan 17 '13 at 18:12
    
@Jim: 1856 Yankee Notions 180 I had my shoulders drawn up, my head down, my eyes and teeth shut, when kersouse came a hull ocean of ice-water. –  Gareth Rees Jan 17 '13 at 18:26
    
@GarethRees Thanks for your kindness. You helped me alot –  Benyamin Hamidekhoo Jan 17 '13 at 19:36

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