scuttlebutt


scuttlebutt

noun

  1. Nautical.
    1. an open cask of drinking water.
    2. a drinking fountain for use by the crew of a vessel.
  2. Informal. rumor or gossip.

noun nautical

  1. a drinking fountain
  2. (formerly) a cask of drinking water aboard a ship
  3. mainly US slang rumour or gossip

n.1805, “cask of drinking water kept on a ship’s deck, having a hole (scuttle) cut in it for a cup or dipper,” from scuttle “opening in a ship’s deck” (see scuttle (v.2)) + butt (n.2) “barrel.” Earlier scuttle cask (1777). Meaning “rumor, gossip” first recorded 1901, originally nautical slang, traditionally said to be from the sailors’ custom of gathering around the scuttlebutt to gossip. Cf. water-cooler, figurative for “workplace gossip” mid-20c.

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