Origin of the word “Scuttlebutt”

2012 May 9
by Andy

Definition of SCUTTLEBUTT

 

a : a cask on shipboard to contain freshwater for a day’s use
b : a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval or marine installation
 
I don’t know why I find this interesting or even mildly amusing, but I do.
 
This term derives from the butt, or cask, that held drinking water on sailing ships; it was scuttled, or provided with a hole in the top, so that water could be drawn. In the same way that office workers gather around a water cooler to share gossip, the scuttlebutt was the locale of idle talk among mariners. Hence, scuttlebutt came to refer to the gossip itself, and the usage was extended to civilian environments.
 
Thanks to DWT for this.
 
 

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