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scuttlebutt

[skuht-l-buht]
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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.
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Origin of scuttlebutt

1795–1805; 1900–05 for def 2; scuttle3 + butt4
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scuttlebutt

scuttlebutt

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

C19: from scuttle ³ + butt 4
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 scuttlebutt

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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper