Etymology: Bumfuzzle

Etymology: Bumfuzzle

I’ve never heard of this word until I searched “funny English words” in Google. According to Dictionary.com, Bumfuzzle is a verb meaning to confuse or fluster.

Bill Clinton apparently used it to address surpluses and budget fights: “The American people must be totally bumfuzzled; [we] keep announcing surpluses and we keep having budget fights.” The word is primarily used in the southern United States.

Dissect Bumfuzzle

While it’s unclear where the word came from, a lot of sources say it’s a combination of “bamboozle,” “fuddle,” and “fuzzy,” all of which are words still used today.

Fuddle and fuzzy are more closely related to the definition of bumfuzzle, both being synonyms of confused. Bamboozle, on the other hand, means to cheat or fool. While this is arguably related to the overall meaning, it hints that bumfuzzle could really mean to confuse or fluster with bad intentions.

Bumfuzzle: The Aftermath

The aftermath of being bumfuzzled is often the feeling of embarrassment. However, it can also be disappointed or angry. Here are three examples of each.

For example, you are promised by your friend that he’ll get you the newest video game for Christmas. Excited, you arrange a day for all your friends to get together to play. But, when you open the present, you realize it’s not a video game but a board game instead. You feel slightly embarrassed, but you play the game anyway.

Here’s another scenario: you are promised pizza by your older sibling if you finish all your chores. You love pizza, you work hard to finish your chores before dinnertime. When the pizza order comes in, you discover that your sibling ordered the pizza you hate.

You get a phone call from your parents that the last piece of chocolate cake is waiting for you at home. When you finally get home, you happen to see your sibling finishing the cake you are promised. Will you feel angry or disappointed that you are too late?

Other Humorous Words?

There are tons of extinct (rarely used) and humorous English words out there. Have you heard of any others? Do you have a favourite?