A “ruckus” is a noisy fight or minor disturbance, a commotion, much ado about very little.  “The dogs would set off quite a ruckus when they heard something in the woods.”

Some writers suggest that “ruckus” is a combination of two words, “rumpus” and “ruction,” with quite different origins. “Rumpus” was coined in the 1700s by European students to describe a riot or uproar. Today we use it in “rumpus room” where children can be noisy or the adults can play pool. The original “ruction” was the Irish Insurrection of 1798, a violent agrarian rebellion. By the early 1800s, “insurrection” had been abbreviated to “ruction,” and the word came to mean any violent and destructive quarrel.

Its American in origin, from the 1880s at least. Early instances were spelled in different ways, such as: rucus, rukus or rookus, which may reflect how the word was said in various regions of the country. “It is but right that they should know how the matter stands, and have fair warning to avoid a ‘pending’ rucus of some sort.”

It’s probable that “ruckus” grew out of earlier words. For example, “rook” is a Scottish word recorded from 1808 that meant a quarrel or uproar.

In British English, “ruck” is a term in rugby for a loose scrum and also for a quarrel or fight. That could be a shortened forms of ruckus. 

I guess I’m deprived of sensory excitement. I’ve never seen a rugby game and never been part of a ruckus. Somehow I can’t whip up any regrets for that.

  One thought on “ruckus

  1. May 9, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    “Ruck” is also a verb, meaning to rumple, generally applied to cloth. Floor mats often get rucked up, creating a visual ruckus, not to mention a tripping hazard.

    Liked by 1 person

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