Thursday, July 10, 2008

Willow's Weekly Word

I think etymology is incredibly interesting and have decided to
make it a regular feature on my blog. I am constantly using odd
words and phrases and wondering where in the world they came
from and why. Here’s an interesting one, that is part of my
vocabulary. Scuttlebutt. No, it doesn’t have to do with a part
of your anatomy. It is a compound word formed from scuttle, “a
small opening or hatchway in the deck of a ship, furnished with
a lid” and butt “a large cask, especially for holding wine or water”.
So, a scuttlebutt was a cask used to carry a day’s worth of
drinking water aboard a ship, or, in more modern times, it is a
drinking fountain aboard a ship. The term scuttlebutt “gossip”
emerged as sailors would congregate around the scuttlebutt
and engage in friendly chat and gossip. I guess you could say
that blogging was a form of scuttlebutting, don’t you think?
And I think these handsome young sailors look dashing in their
hats, too!


  1. Those sailors are having waaay too much fun! May I suggest, "Hide the women!"

    That is, or else there will be new scuttlebutt tomorrow.

  2. Bill, yes, they look pretty darn happy, don't they? That nice, dark, foamy ale looks so good. I want a glass right now! They do look like they are brewing some scuttlebutt worthy material.

  3. Sort of an early "water cooler" moment kind of thing, huh? Great work and fun to say!

  4. Well, how interesting is THAT!? I never knew that. I agree--etymology is fascinating. So many things come into the vernacular in fascinating ways...I was thinking exactly what Pam said about the water cooler...

  5. Pamela, yes, it is fun to say! I think that's why I like the word.

  6. A Brush, yes, the water cooler! And at home it's the kitchen sink, like a watering hole in the old west!

  7. I love this Willow and will look forward to your weekly post...I've heard the word before and never knew where it came from...interesting hmmmm

    The sailors are great :)

  8. I left a nice long comment earlier tonight but I think blogger ate it. The gist was this...I like this new feature. Very interesting. Keep it coming. That's all the scuttlebutt I know for now.

  9. Hey Willow, you have an award waiting on you!!

  10. What a great feature! Etymology is fascinating and I've always thought that scuttlebutt was such a bizarre word. Never really knew what it meant expept that it had something to do with a ship...The photo is great...They do look quite pleased with themselves, don't they?...My DH probably knew this but I'll send this picture to him. He has applied to the Navy for a Dental scholarship :-)....

  11. Hi, Willow, thanks for stopping by the other day. May I put a link to you blog on mine, please?

    In regards to etymology, when I was in uni (I majored in languagues, major in English and minors in both French and German) I came across this subject in my fourth year and it bowled me over. It is a very useful tool when faced with the daunting task of impressing your teachers; we're talking essays here. Etymology is intrinsically linked to history and culture, which in my case was all the more important given that fact my mother tongue is a romance language, Spanish and so is French. Yet, both English and German are Germanic lingoes (I guess you knew that about German, didn't you?) and not many people know that this is the main reason why there are so many short words in English, because of the Teutonic influence.

    Do keep up the good work. I can't wait for the next word.

    And yes, I agree with Bill, those sailors look 'too happy'.

    Greetings from London.

  12. What a great idea for a weekly feature. I find etymology fascinating...this will be fun!

    Love the sailor photo!

  13. I appreciate that. You have stumbled upon a worthy venture. I just never thought to pry the butt off the scuttle like that. Might need to call the Shore Patrol as the evening wears on. :) Pappy

  14. Em, thank you! I'll head over to your place...

    Rebecca, wow! Your DH might be experiencing some genuine scuttlebutt.

  15. Cuban, thanks so much for your very interesting input! Yes, the history and culture is what is so intriguing to me about etymology.

    Of course, I would be happy and honored to be listed on your blogroll! And come back to the Manor soon.

  16. Pappy, yes, prying it off the scuttle is all part of the process! Glad to hear that my new little venture is "Pappyworthy".

  17. Little Cat, hi, welcome and thank you for signing my guestbook! I'm heading over to your place...

  18. This is going to be a great new feature here at the Manor! And we will all be more educated in the process! Scuttlebutt....who would have known?!

  19. So that's the scuttle for today, eh? Great word. I threw something in the hopper the other day, and then had to look up where that word came from.

    Love the sailor photo, too. I have some pictures of my sailor dad in a very similar pose - except he was drinking wine with some very exotic women in the booth with him and his buddies. I don't think he knew my mom then!

  20. I would have scuttled my butt over here sooner but alas I have almost no butt ... seriously ...

    LOVE this new 'feature' of Willow Manor


  21. Like Steviewren, I left a comment last night and I guess Blogger "ate it." Sometimes it's finicky.

    I love etymology, and this was a fun word to learn about. I'm looking forward to this new feature.

    Sometimes when I see an old photo such as this one I wonder if someone in it could be a long lost relative? The first man on the left looks familiar They are all certainly enjoying their stout!

  22. That was interesting....the old word for water cooler banter!

  23. Love the sailor hats!

    This was fascinating, although I'm not so familiar with the term scuttlebutt! I enjoyed taking a linguistics class in college... it's an interesting subject for sure.

  24. What a great photo! "Louis" enjoys etymology, too, so he thanks you for this!

    On a different subject, "Louis" et Mme. la Vache celebrate their premier anniversaire today.

  25. Aha....I thought it referred to the butt of a gun. Well we live and learn. Looking forward to the next lesson, Willow.

  26. Now, isn't that interesting-so when they "scuttle" a ship, I wonder does that mean they open that hatch to let the water in to sink it?

    I love etymology.

    I see by your next post you're a bit partial to entomology as well.


  27. I think your new feature sounds great. You always have wonderful pictures and the best writing. I learned what scuttlebutt means, thank you. Trish

  28. I am very interested in your article about etymology of words, especially for a french man who he's always learning english. claude

  29. Claude, thanks for your input! I plan on making this a weekly feature. Thanks for stopping by Willow Manor, all the way from France!

  30. This will be a great feature on your blog, anticipating more fun.

    We'll be taking our kids to Ellis Island in August. There used to be an etymologic display there...a branching tree with words at the tips of the branches, with clues tracing back to the root language/meaning/people groups. Hope it is still there!

    deb meyers


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)