scuttle butt

scuttlebutt

[skuht-l-buht]
noun
1.
Nautical.
a.
an open cask of drinking water.
b.
a drinking fountain for use by the crew of a vessel.
2.
Informal. rumor or gossip.

Origin:
1795–1805; 1900–05 for def 2; scuttle3 + butt4

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World English Dictionary
scuttlebutt (ˈskʌtəlˌbʌt)
 
n
1.  a drinking fountain
2.  (formerly) a cask of drinking water aboard a ship
3.  slang chiefly (US) rumour or gossip
 
[C19: from scuttle³ + butt4]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

scuttlebutt
1805, "water cask kept on a ship's deck," from scuttle "opening in a ship's deck" (see scuttle (v.2)) + butt "barrel." Earlier scuttle cask (1777). Meaning "rumor, gossip" first recorded 1901, originally nautical slang, traditionally said to be from sailors' custom of gathering around the scuttlebutt
to gossip.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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