Fuddy-duddy is an idiom that seems to have been coined in the United States. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom fuddy-duddy where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A fuddy-duddy is someone who is old-fashioned or a conformist; a fuddy-duddy lacks initiative and inspiration. The term fuddy-duddy depends on reduplication, a term that describes a word that repeats sounds completely or in part. The expression fuddy-duddy first appeared in the United States in the very late 1800s; its popularity soared in the mid-20th century. The exact origin of the hyphenated compound word, fuddy-duddy, is unknown; however, it may come from a series of jokes published in newspapers in the late 1800s that featured the characters Fuddy and Duddy. Or the term fuddy-duddy may have been derived from a term taken from the Cumberland dialect: duddy fuddiel, which means ragged man. The plural form of fuddy-duddy is fuddy-duddies.


But, notice — at only two synonyms removed — we’ve vered from the fuddy-duddy world of finance to a full-blown bank heist. (The Georgetowner)

Within the domain of relatively well-paid white collar India, the demonstrative power is quite substantial, if only because major employers don’t want to be labelled as unreformed, fuddy-duddy types by today’s prospective employees. (Times of India)

Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you want, but I was screaming, “Get off that lawn!!!” as I watched the chaotic mass of golf fans break through the ropes Sunday and swarm Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka as they made their way to the 18th green during Mickelson’s historic victory at the PGA Championship. (Orlando Sentinel)

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