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verb (used without object), scut·tled, scut·tling.
  1. to run with quick, hasty steps; scurry.
  1. a quick pace.
  2. a short, hurried run.

Origin of scuttle2

1400–50; late Middle English scottlynge (gerund), variant of scuddle, frequentative of scud1


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1. hasten, hurry, scamper, scramble.


  1. Nautical.
    1. a small hatch or port in the deck, side, or bottom of a vessel.
    2. a cover for this.
  2. a small hatchlike opening in a roof or ceiling.
verb (used with object), scut·tled, scut·tling.
  1. to sink (a vessel) deliberately by opening seacocks or making openings in the bottom.
  2. to abandon, withdraw from, or cause to be abandoned or destroyed (as plans, hopes, rumors, etc.).

Origin of scuttle3

1490–1500; perhaps ≪ Spanish escotilla hatchway, equivalent to escot(e) a cutting of cloth (< Gothic skaut seam; akin to sheet1) + -illa diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scuttled


  1. See coal scuttle
  2. dialect, mainly British a shallow basket, esp for carrying vegetables
  3. the part of a motor-car body lying immediately behind the bonnet

Word Origin

Old English scutel trencher, from Latin scutella bowl, diminutive of scutra platter; related to Old Norse skutill, Old High German scuzzila, perhaps to Latin scūtum shield


  1. (intr) to run or move about with short hasty steps
  1. a hurried pace or run

Word Origin

C15: perhaps from scud, influenced by shuttle


  1. (tr) nautical to cause (a vessel) to sink by opening the seacocks or making holes in the bottom
  2. (tr) to give up (hopes, plans, etc)
  1. nautical a small hatch or its cover

Word Origin

C15 (n): via Old French from Spanish escotilla a small opening, from escote opening in a piece of cloth, from escotar to cut out
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for scuttled



"bucket," late Old English scutel "dish, platter," from Latin scutella "serving platter" (source also of French écuelle, Spanish escudilla, Italian scudella "a plate, bowl"), diminutive of scutra "flat tray, dish," perhaps related to scutum "shield" (see hide (n.1)).

A common Germanic borrowing from Latin (cf. Old Norse skutill, Middle Dutch schotel, Old High German scuzzila, German Schüssel "a dish"). Meaning "basket for sifting grain" is attested from mid-14c.; sense of "bucket for holding coal" first recorded 1849.



"scamper, scurry," mid-15c., probably related to scud (v.). Related: Scuttled; scuttling.

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
[T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"]



"cut a hole in a ship to sink it," 1640s, from skottell (n.) "opening in a ship's deck" (late 15c.), from Middle French escoutille (Modern French écoutille) or directly from Spanish escotilla "hatchway," diminutive of escota "opening in a garment," from escotar "cut out," perhaps from e- "out" (see ex-) + Germanic *skaut-. Figurative use is recorded from 1888. Related: Scuttled; scuttling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper