Did you hear the latest….

water-cooler

Scuttlebutt? I am not sure if that word is part of your working vocabulary, but for every naval person that ever was, scuttlebutt is a term that means rumors. As in, “have you heard the scuttlebutt? We’re making a mid-patrol stop at….” During my time serving onboard a submarine there was one patrol in which the scuttlebutt was so sure that it was elevated to “the gouge” – an expression that meant the real, insider knowledge. It was our own ontological vocabulary to separate fact from fiction… or at least to label such things.

“The gouge” on the mid-patrol stop turned out to be totally wrong leading more than one sailor to bring far less than a full patrol worth of one thing or another. But nonetheless passing on the scuttlebutt was still the past time around water coolers, coffee pots, and where ever shipmates gathered.

From the good people at Merriam-Webster: “Back in the early 1800s, the cask containing a ship’s daily supply of fresh water was called a scuttlebutt (from the verb scuttle meaning “to cut a hole through” and the noun butt, “cask”); that name was later applied to a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval installation. In time, 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.” And that is “the gouge” on the origin of the word!

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