[Ads-l] fuzz = uncertainty, ambiguity

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 15 14:16:01 EDT 2017

My latest WSJ column is on "fuzz" as used by James Comey in his Senate
testimony last week ("There is no fuzz on that").


As usual, if you hit the paywall, you can try following a social media link:


Here are relevant cites for "fuzz on (X)" = 'uncertainty/doubt about (X)'.

Problems at National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FY91, Special
Senate Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations,
July 18, 1990
Hearing Id: HRG-1990-SAP-0043, Transcript, p. 46
[James M. Beggs, former NASA Administrator:] In short, NASA is fully as
responsible as Perkin-Elmer for the mistake that was made. There is no fuzz
on that as we say in the trade. We are fully responsible. We had the
oversight responsibility.

Hearings on National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994
House Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, May 11, 1993
Hearing Id: HRG-1993-ASH-0022, Transcript, p. 549
[Gen. Ronald W. Yates:] So we look at what we are doing and what our
wartime needs are. In other words, there is a number that is firm. What we
say is, here is how much the depot can surge. There is a little fuzz on
that, as I talked about.

Defense Daily, Aug. 11, 1994 [Factiva]
"A weapons system in development and on the drawing board never saved a
single life," he [Lt. Gen. William Forster] said. "I'd rather have a good
piece of equipment with a little fuzz on it in combat than a wonderful
piece of equipment in my computer database."

Commuter/Regional Airline News, Aug. 9, 1999, p. 1 [Factiva]
There are a lot of spin doctors saying the WTO decision wasn't as bad as it
seemed, said Adam Pilarski of Reston, Va.-based Avitas. "In fact, both
countries were called bad and told not to operate their subsidy programs
anymore," he stated. "There's no fuzz on this decision. The WTO said both
countries were illegally subsidizing products. Everyone says we lost, but
someone lost more. No one really said we won."

Denver Post, Mar. 29, 2000, p. A1 [LexisNexis]
"We made mistakes. No fuzz on that. We own up to that. There is no excusing
mistakes," said Noel Hinners, vice president of flight systems for Lockheed.

Texas, July 30, 2000 [Factiva]
"It was very hard to get your arms around what it meant," said company
spokesman Joe Stout. "We're not doing that again. We're military aircraft.
There's no fuzz on it."

Associated Press, Aug. 25, 2003 [Factiva]
In an interview Monday, [NASA administrator Sean] O'Keefe said the report
"is going to have no fuzz on it, no gloves. It is going to be


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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