1580s, "to get drunk" (intransitive); c. 1600, "to confuse as though with drink" (transitive), of obscure origin, perhaps from Low German fuddeln "work in a slovenly manner (as if drunk)," from fuddle "worthless cloth." The more common derivative befuddle dates only to 1873. Related: Fuddled; fuddling. A hard-drinker in 17c. might be called a fuddle-cap (1660s).