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<   No. 2237   2009-03-12   >

Comic #2237

1 Chauffeur: That's Citroën H following us today. They're Bulgarians working for the Russians.
2 Chauffeur: They follow us, we follow them. It's a sort of understanding we have.
3 Stud: We wouldn't put up with such Bulgarity in England.
4 Chauffeur: You're in Turkey now, Mr Stud.
4 Stud: Ah... That's why there's so much stuffing around.

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That's a Citroën Traction Avant in the background, the actual model used in the film From Russia With Love. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, and therefore this comic is released under the GFDL.

2022-01-02 Rerun commentary: So.

The first meaning of the double pun in the punchline is hopefully clear, referring to the filling inside a roast turkey.

To me, the second meaning is also clear. "Stuffing around" is an idiom meaning to faff about, to waste time in meaningless or ineffective activity.

However, trying to find a good reference for this on the Internet... I can't. There are some anecdotal references in various language fora, but I can't find a single definition from any sort of dictionary or word reference site. Some of the anecdotes agree with my definition, but I also see a couple that claim that "stuffing around" means "acting in a pretentious manner", which is a very different thing.

I asked my friends, and they all agree that "stuffing around" means, to quote one:

Doing unproductive or frivolous activity instead of advancing a known goal; perhaps actively hampering a goal (albeit unintentionally).

So... I'm not sure what to conclude. Is this usage of "stuff(ing) about" an Australian idiom? It's not in my paper edition of the Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms. Is it perhaps regional to Sydney? Or is it more widespread, and if so, why are there so few references to it on the Internet?


Some usages I have now managed to find:

So it looks like "stuff(ing) around" is an Australian/NZism. There are several hits in .au sites and AU/NZ books. But nothing outside that, at least not with the same meaning. Interestingly, it seems that no language/idiom/etymology/dictionary site seems to have picked up this idiom. Not one that I could find offers any sort of definition.

So if anyone outside AU/NZ never got the original joke in this strip the first time around... Sorry. But at least you get it now!

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