- Rumors or gossip.
- A drinking fountain or water cooler.
Probably earlier than the 19th century.
Drinking or potable water used to be carried in a cask, called a butt, which had been scuttled (i.e. had a hole punched in it) to allow water to be easily drawn from it. Hence, scuttlebutt became the term for a drinking fountain, as well as place where sailors congregated around to exchange rumors, gossip, and small-talk. Same reasoning holds for the office gossip exchanged around the water cooler.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.