scut·​tle·​butt | \ˈskə-tᵊl-ˌbət \

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

2 : rumor, gossip

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Synonyms for scuttlebutt


buzz, dish, gossip, hearsay, noise, report, rumor, talk, tattle, word

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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

The scuttlebutt from some: The long lag time between oral arguments and the opinion’s release means the decision is being carefully crafted to declare the ballot question unconstitutional. Joshua Miller,, "If it’s 8 a.m., the most powerful people in Mass. are checking this Twitter account (and no, it’s not @realDonaldTrump)," 14 June 2018 In the hours before Trump's Jan. 31, 2017, announcement of Gorsuch's nomination, Hardiman was driving from his home near Pittsburgh in the general direction of Washington, prompting scuttlebutt he was being selected. Geoff Mulvihill,, "A Supreme Court runner-up twice in two years, Hardiman is back at work," 10 July 2018 Here’s the scuttlebutt of where things stand in AC: Boardwalk Resorts – Hoping to get a sportsbook by football season, but are ready to launch online betting Aug. 1. Ed Barkowitz,, "Sports betting comes to Atlantic City boardwalk on Thursday with opening of Ocean Resort," 27 June 2018 Now, thanks to the amount of online sharing, leaking and ranting from TV insiders, fans are privy to everything from scuttlebutt in the writers room to actors’ views on the gun debate and #MeToo. John Jurgensen, WSJ, "When Off-Camera Opinions Eclipse the Comedy," 31 May 2018 Asked for comment, Dougherty didn’t address the scuttlebutt., "Philly Sheriff Jewell Williams cited for operating illegal triplex | Clout," 26 Apr. 2018 This draft season has already been flooded by quarterback scuttlebutt, primarily with the bottom feeders of the league. Larry Holder,, "For Sean Payton, 1 question about ageless Drew Brees never changes," 27 Mar. 2018 The scuttlebutt in the Granite State at this point is more about who will drop out than about who has a leg up. James Pindell,, "Four New England campaigns you should really be watching," 4 May 2018 Reporting a colleague to management based on unproven office scuttlebutt is rarely a good idea, and seems particularly inadvisable here. New York Times, "When a Colleague Takes a Parking Space for People With Disabilities," 4 May 2018

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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The first known use of scuttlebutt was circa 1805

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English Language Learners Definition of scuttlebutt

: talk or stories about someone that may not be true

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by force of circumstances

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