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A fuddy-duddy (or fuddy duddy or fuddy-dud)[1][2] is a person who is fussy while old-fashioned, traditionalist, conformist, or conservative, sometimes almost to the point of eccentricity or geekiness. It is a slang term, mildly derogatory but sometimes affectionate too and can be used to describe someone with a zealous focus on order.[3]


Ambrose Bierce's story Who Drives Oxen Should Himself be Sane, published in 1918, starts out with a use of the phrase and discussion of it as a "unique adjuration".[4] Fuddy-duddy is used to indicate "stuffiness" and "outmoded tastes and manners".[5] The Rolls Royce car manufacturer was referred to as a fuddy-duddy brand in a 2004 Popular Science article.[6] It is also used in the title of juvenile fiction novels including Kay Hoflander's The Chautauqua Kids and the Fuddy Duddy Daddy: A Tale of Pancakes & Baseball,[7] Uncle Fuddy-Duddy Rabbit Tales by Roy Windham and Polly Rushton.[8] and Uncle Fuddy-Duddy Learns to Fly!.[9]


Fuddy-duddy is considered a word based on duplication and may have originated as a fused phrase made to form a rhyming jingle. Duddy is similar to Daddy and may have caught on from children's rhyming.[10]

Gender role[edit]

Fuddy-duddy is often used to refer to a man perceived as stodgy or foolish. It has been used throughout the 20th century, but its origins are unknown. The short form fud may relate to the Bugs Bunny cartoon character Elmer Fudd. The terms frump and old fart have also been used as words to designate similar qualities.[11]

Female figures have been labeled with terms of a similar meaning, including school marm, or marm, which could be used for an older female disciplinarian such as a stereotypical type of strict teacher.

Regional lingo[edit]

Fuddy-duddy "was often used as a verb by a native of the state of Maine... in the sense of 'to act in a foolish or ineffectual manner".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ hyphen http://ncsu.edu/sma/instructional-material/style-guide/styleguide/the-dash-vs-the-hyphen/
  2. ^ Tom Dalzell The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English
  3. ^ Karen O'Connor Fuddy-duddy Walkin' with God Ain't for Wimps: Spirit-Lifting Stories for the Young at Heart page 67-68
  4. ^ Ambrose Bierce Can such things be? Publisher Boni & Liveright, 1918 Original from the University of California, Digitized Nov 6, 2008
  5. ^ The World Book dictionary, Volume 1 By World Book, Inc page 860
  6. ^ Stephany Wilkinson Fuddy-Duddy Brand Spawns Luxury Rocket Man & Machine; Hard Fast Shiny Objects and Why We Love Them, July 2004 120 pages Vol. 265, No. 1 ISSN 0161-7370 Published by Bonnier Corporation, Popular Science page 26
  7. ^ The Chautauqua Kids and the Fuddy Duddy Daddy: A Tale of Pancakes & Baseball Kay Hoflander - Juvenile Fiction - 2007 - 64 pages
  8. ^ Uncle Fuddy-Duddy Rabbit Tales Roy Windham, Polly Rushton - Juvenile Fiction - 2004 - 24 pages
  9. ^ Uncle Fuddy-Duddy Learns to Fly! Roy Windham, Polly Rushton - Juvenile Fiction - 2005 - 24 pages
  10. ^ Anatoly Liberman Word origins: -- and how we know them : etymology for everyone pages 54, 57, 59
  11. ^ Philip Herbst [1] Wimmin, wimps & wallflowers: an encyclopaedic dictionary of gender and... page 108
  12. ^ Dictionary of American Regional English: D - H, Volume 2 By Frederic G. Cassidy page 597