scuttlebutt

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

scuttle +‎ butt. In sense of gossip, because sailors would gather around the scuttlebutt to drink and exchange gossip; compare water cooler and furphy.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

scuttlebutt (countable and uncountable, plural scuttlebutts)

  1. (nautical, countable) A butt with a scuttle, a keg of drinking water with a hole cut in it, on board ship.
    • 1986, John Wheatcroft, Slow Exposures, page 114,
      Leaning over the scuttlebutt one afternoon, Bond suddenly realized he'd been gulping water for maybe a minute.
    • 1991, Paul Stillwell, Battleship Arizona: An Illustrated History, page 79,
      During the midwatch a radioman striker (that is, a seaman trying to advance to radioman third class) was taking a drink of water from the third-deck scuttlebutt.
    • 2007, Joseph A. Springer, Inferno: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in World War II, page 218,
      We all grabbed towels that belonged to whoever lived there, and we wet them down in the scuttlebutt and wrapped them around our faces to filter out as much smoke as possible.
  2. (informal, uncountable) Gossip, rumour, idle chatter.
    • 1962, Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles, page 137,
      "That's the scuttlebutt," Bronson said defiantly. "You got some pet coolie down there you want to put in Chien's place."
    • 2003, Len Custer, Called to Serve: A Historical Novel of the Korean War, page 211,
      His resolve not to worry about unfounded scuttlebutt lasted about two minutes.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 3:
      Since their orders had come through, the “scuttlebutt” among the excited and curious crew had been of little besides the fabled “White City” [...].

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