[Ads-l] fluffle

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 28 20:32:27 UTC 2023

I was recently forwarded this language factoid:

"A group of wild rabbits is called a 'fluffle' and I've never loved the
English language more."

I'm always curious how these things spread, and this one sent me down a
rabbit-hole, appropriately enough. Here's a timeline:

July 30, 2007: Wikipedia user Freeridr adds an unsourced claim to the entry
for "rabbit": "A group of rabbits or hares are often called a 'fluffle' in
parts of Northern Canada."

Apr. 29, 2008: The text of the Wikipedia "rabbit" entry (including the
"fluffle" line) is copied over to New World Encylopedia, a site run by Sun
Myung Moon's Unification Church.

Feb. 17, 2010: The "fluffle" line is deleted from Wikipedia by an editor
("Removed supposed naming of a group of rabbits as a 'fluffle', as I can't
verify it").

Sept. 29, 2013: Reddit user AaronM97 asks, "What's a fact you know that
will cheer me up?" Among the thousands of replies, user AmyEarhart submits
"a group of bunnies is called a fluffle."

Oct. 5, 2013: Thought Catalog publishes "30 Random, Interesting Facts That
Will Cheer You Up" based on the Reddit thread, including AmyEarhart's
"fluffle" submission.

Mar. 19, 2014: Buzzfeed publishes "64 Facts That Will Make You Feel
Incredibly Happy," which includes "a group of bunnies is called a fluffle."
The listicle links to the New World Encylopedia entry for "rabbit," which
retained the "fluffle" line despite its removal from Wikipedia.

And from there it multiplied like rabbits all over the place!


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

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