scut·​tle·​butt | \ ˈskə-tᵊl-ˌbət How to pronounce scuttlebutt (audio) \

Definition of scuttlebutt

1a : a cask on shipboard to contain fresh water for a day's use
b : a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval or marine installation

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Scuttlebutt, the Water Cooler Talk of 19th Century Seafarers

Nowadays, office workers catch up on the latest scuttlebutt around the water cooler, and when they do, they are continuing a long-standing (although not necessarily honorable) tradition. That kind of gossip sharing probably also occurred on the sailing ships of yore. Back in the early 1800s, the cask containing a ship's daily supply of freshwater was called a scuttlebutt; that name was later applied to a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval installation. By the early 20th century, the term for the water source was also applied to the gossip and rumors generated around it, and the latest chatter has been called scuttlebutt ever since.

Examples of scuttlebutt in a Sentence

according to scuttlebutt in the financial markets, the company will be downsizing soon
Recent Examples on the Web This usually starts as social media scuttlebutt about the Thing that's going on behind the scenes at a beloved daily or nightly show. Caissie St. Onge,, "Here's how talk shows can do and be better — from a longtime producer (Op-ed)," 20 Aug. 2020 The Twitter scuttlebutt was that Amazon hates them because too many readers think the books are defective and send them back. John Warner,, "For the love of a deckle edge: John Warner notes the tactile pleasures of reading unevenly bound pages," 16 Aug. 2020 All the scuttlebutt seems to indicate that Lewis should be the man. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Lunch Special: Will the Broncos look for a replacement for Garett Bolles? How about Trent Williams?," 30 Mar. 2020 The current scuttlebutt is that the new design could provide an up to 50-percent performance bump above older RDNA chips, which is broadly in line with the stats Microsoft cited. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "The next Xbox will quadruple XB1’s CPU, octuple its GPU performance," 24 Feb. 2020 As the team’s union representative, Plumlee is acutely aware of the topic, which is at the heart of the NBA’s latest scuttlebutt. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Singer: Nuggets union rep Mason Plumlee says there’s been “some talk” about potentially dramatic changes to NBA," 30 Nov. 2019 In a season long lost to Klay Thompson’s ACL recovery and Stephen Curry’s broken hand, the Warriors are sure to be among much of the buzzi-est scuttlebutt leading up to the Feb. 6 trade deadline. Rusty Simmons,, "Are Golden State Warriors ready to make some trades?," 16 Dec. 2019 The scuttlebutt suggests that there was a desire to honor Atwood because of her distinguished career for a book that seems important in a particular political moment. John Warner,, "2 Booker Prizes were awarded, so what does it really mean to be the ‘best’ book of the year?," 28 Oct. 2019 The Fox Searchlight release has long been rumored to be a production in trouble and based on the scathing reviews that greeted it in Toronto, the scuttlebutt was all too true. Brent Lang,, "10 biggest winners and losers at the Toronto Film Festival," 12 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scuttlebutt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of scuttlebutt

circa 1805, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for scuttlebutt

alteration of scuttled butt butt with a hole cut into it

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Time Traveler for scuttlebutt

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The first known use of scuttlebutt was circa 1805

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Cite this Entry

“Scuttlebutt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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How to pronounce scuttlebutt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scuttlebutt

US, informal : talk or stories about someone that may not be true

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