"A word, app. of U.S. coinage, used to express the ideas of bewilderment or confusion, rapid stir and bustle, riotous jollity or intoxication, etc. Also, deception, fraud; extravagant publicity" [OED], 1886, American English slang, varied reduplication of dazzle (q.v.).
My confrère, The Chevalier, last month gave a new name to the scarfs of disjointed pattern when he called them the razzle-dazzle. The name was evidently a hit of the most patent character, for in several avenue and Broadway stores the clerks have thrown out a display of broken figures before me and explained that the ruling style at present was the razzle-dazzle, and the word seems to have been equally effective with the public, for when it is quoted by the live salesman, the customer, I am told is at once interested and caught by it. [Clothier and Furnisher magazine, January 1889]
Meaning "state of confusion" is from 1889.
updated on May 16, 2021