"trifling bustle," 1701, originally colloquial, perhaps an alteration of force (n.), or "echoic of the sound of something sputtering or bubbling" [OED], or from Danish fjas "foolery, nonsense." First attested in Anglo-Irish writers, but there are no obvious connections to words in Irish. To make a fuss was earlier to keep a fuss (1726). Fuss and feathers "bustle and display" is from 1848, American English, suggestive of a game cock or a peacock, originally of U.S. Army Gen. Winfield Scott (1786-1866) in the Mexican-American War.
Gen. Scott is said to be as particular in matters of etiquette and dress as Gen. Taylor is careless. The soldiers call one "Old Rough and Ready," and the other "Old Fuss and Feathers." [The Mammoth, Nov. 15, 1848].
updated on August 18, 2020