GUEST POSTING BY KATIE DWYER
Verb trans. L19.
[from BE- + FUDDLE verb origin unknown]
Make stupid through drink etc.; confuse, bewilder.
Many thanks to Katie for writing Lexicolatry's first guest posting! She is an American currently living in Ireland where she is studying Human Rights Law and pursuing her interest in creative writing. While she says she's always had a profound interest in words, she does get particularly excited when discussing the linguistic differences of trans-Atlantic English (I'm attempting to train her to pronounce both aluminium and herbs correctly, but there's still a long way to go). Please give Katie a warm logophilic welcome, and hopefully there'll be lots more posts from her to come. Ed.
There is something delightful in the word befuddle; it evokes a kind of bumbling confusion and overwhelmed head-shaking. I think a lot of this rests in its suffix, the fuddle portion or, even better, fuddled, which sounds to me like a red-faced older gentleman muttering to himself while trying to use an iPhone for the first time. This sense of the word sounding right is called phonosemantics, and befuddle is one of my favorite examples. If I could reach into someone's head and just fuddle up their thoughts, they'd end up all befuddled.
Or, in the case of this delightful series of drawings, the confusion might arise if you ask a dog to perform some highly-specialized skill, such as sitting. Befuddling indeed.
|The Befuddled Dog from Hyperbole and a Half|
(he's a charming but rather dim dog - you really should visit him)