On nineteenth-century British ships, a wooden cask, or butt, held drinking water. Its lid had a dipping hole called a scuttle. The two pieces combined were called a scuttlebutt. As would later be true of office workers sipping water from water coolers, sailors commonly shared gossip beside these containers while quenching their thirst. In time scuttlebutt itself became synonymous with gossip, rumors, or inside information.