What the heck? What kind of a word is this? It sounds like the name of a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show winner.

“Here, Lord Bumfuzzle, let’s trim the fluff before the talent portion!”

photo by Blackoranges via Wikimedia Commons

Well, if you’re confused, you’re not far off from the actual description.

Origin: Bumfuzzle comes from bum-, an expressive prefix, perhaps to be identified with the initial syllable of bamboozle, and fuzzle “to confuse,” perhaps expressive alteration of fuddle. It’s been used in English since around 1900.

Definitions for bumfuzzle

  • Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S., to confuse or fluster.

“This holyfied lady’s jest tryin’ to bumfuzzle us.”
– Joan Hess, Mischief in Maggody, 1988

“This is an attempt to bumfuzzle,” said the President.
– William Safire, “On Language: The Way We Live Now,” New York Times Magazine, November 14, 1999

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    That is indeed a quirky name for a dog. Down here in the South, I do occasionally hear this word used but not all that often in the past few decades. I am not even sure my girls even know what it means. Leave it to the Brits for clever language use.

  2. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    I do so love Joan Hess’s Maggoty Mystery series, laugh out loud funny ( if you are southern , even more so)
    I have them all . Try and find themand and enjoy!
    And I was a big fan of William Safire’s column for years and have one of his books all about words, so fascinationg

  3. Krista says:

    This is my first time hearing this word and it definitely makes for a funny dog name! I’m going to remember this for future conversations. See if I can bumfuzzle others.

  4. Ruth says:

    LOL! I’ve used “bumfuzzle” my entire life. I teach and sometimes say this in class, to bewildered looks. ‘Tis a great word!

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