hurly burly

A hurly burly is a hubbub or commotion. There’s the hurly burly of the schoolyard, or the hurly burly of a food fight. When there’s a hurly burly, things have gone totally higgledy-piggledy.

When something loud, unruly, or chaotic is going on, there’s a hurly burly. It’s an old-fashioned British word. In fact, a witch in Shakespeare’s Macbeth says, “When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.” A hurly burly isn’t always as serious as war, though, it’s an informal word for a disturbance, hoo-ha, kerfuffle, a real to-do, the kind that wouldn’t be welcome in a library. Any hurly burly is noisy in some way.

Definitions of hurly burly
  1. noun
    a disorderly outburst or tumult
    synonyms: commotion, disruption, disturbance, flutter, hoo-ha, hoo-hah, kerfuffle, to-do
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    types:
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    convulsion, turmoil, upheaval
    a violent disturbance
    earthquake
    a disturbance that is extremely disruptive
    incident
    a public disturbance
    splash, stir
    a prominent or sensational but short-lived news event
    maelstrom, storm, tempest
    a violent commotion or disturbance
    storm center, storm centre
    a center of trouble or disturbance
    garboil, tumult, tumultuousness, uproar, zoo
    a state of commotion and noise and confusion
    combustion
    a state of violent disturbance and excitement
    type of:
    disorder
    a disturbance of the peace or of public order
Commonly confused words

Colson Whitehead on the "Hurly-Burly" of Downtown Vegas

In "Loving Las Vegas" for Harper's Magazine, Colson Whitehead uses hurly burly when he writes about a summer stint splitting a Let's Go student travel guide assignment among three friends.

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