I would like to find out if I can use the word kerfuffle in formal writing. English is not my first language and I am thinking of using the word Kerfuffle in my exam report.Is it too informal?

Here is the definition that I found on Google.

Kerfuffle: a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.

Would it be too informal to say that There is a common kerfuffle over whether or not people tend to like others who are similar to them?

  • 1
    in my opinion, it is too informal.
    – rajah9
    Oct 6, 2019 at 13:21
  • 1
    Kerfuffle ... why the misspellings? One comment with Kercuffle one answer with Kerkuffle
    – GEdgar
    Oct 6, 2019 at 13:31
  • 1
    If I did, I wouldn't use it like that - ... common kerfuffle over ... is not idiomatic. A kerfuffle describes a resulting state of affairs, so you need to say what events produced it. It doesn't mean differing views exist in general, it means particular attempts to discuss an issue have degenerated into a nonproductive fuss. Kerfuffles are puny things. They aren't broad enough to describe issues with different camps.
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 6, 2019 at 14:17
  • 1
    Please don’t use words you are not familiar with in another language. And don’t use this forum for purposes other than stated in the Tour.
    – David
    Oct 6, 2019 at 18:39
  • 1
    Yes, but you must wear either a tie or a dress while writing it, to make it formal enough. Oct 6, 2019 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


Can You use the word “kerfuffle”in formal writing? YES. Vocabulary.com

A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss.

As in:

You tell your little girl everything will be okay, or you tell your tween how to handle a friend kerfuffle, or you commiserate with your teen who’s complaining that his teacher hates him. Washington Post Aug 21, 2019

And from WorldWideWords:

Though the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer used it in January 2002, it hasn’t been especially well-known there and a later presidential usage caused something of a kerfuffle:

President Bush used “kerfuffle” Monday during an appearance in Ohio, and in so doing, he created a minor one himself. Some of the president-watchers on duty in the press gallery had to stop in mid-story and explain to America this novel new word from the man who gave us “misunderestimated.” The Lima News (Ohio), 22 Mar. 2006.

Listed as informal in BrE, In AmE it is not always so designated. AmE is also 'looser' than proper BrE, for better or worse. My sense is it can be used formally or informally, at least in AmE. Now 'bloody hell' ... that's another kerfuffle, and it not over the use of hell.

  • But I wouldn't use it in the context you suggest, to mean simply 'a difference of opinion'. Oct 7, 2019 at 9:35

The term is certainly informal.


You will most commonly come across this wonderfully expressive word for a commotion or fuss in Britain and the British Commonwealth countries. It is rather informal, though it often appears in newspapers.


  • But if it appears often in newspapers, doesn't that make it more likely on the formal side?
    – Mitch
    Oct 7, 2019 at 13:39
  • @Mitch - I clearly say it is “INFORMAL”
    – user 66974
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:37

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