from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small opening or hatch with a movable lid in the deck or hull of a ship or in the roof, wall, or floor of a building.
  • n. The lid or hatch of such an opening.
  • transitive v. Nautical To cut or open a hole or holes in (a ship's hull).
  • transitive v. Nautical To sink (a ship) by this means.
  • transitive v. Informal To scrap; discard: "a program [the] President . . . sought to scuttle” ( Christian Science Monitor).
  • n. A metal pail for carrying coal.
  • n. A shallow open basket for carrying vegetables, flowers, or grain.
  • intransitive v. To run or move with short hurried movements; scurry.
  • n. A hurried run.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A container like an open bucket (usually to hold and carry coal).
  • n. A hatch that provides access to the roof from the interior of a building.
  • n. A small hatch or opening in a boat. Also, small opening in a boat or ship for draining water from open deck.
  • v. To deliberately sink a ship or boat by order of the vessel's commander or owner.
  • v. Undermine or thwart oneself (sometimes intentionally), or denigrate or destroy one's position or property; compare scupper.
  • v. To move hastily, to scurry

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A broad, shallow basket.
  • n. A wide-mouthed vessel for holding coal: a coal hod.
  • n. A quick pace; a short run.
  • n. A small opening in an outside wall or covering, furnished with a lid.
  • n. A small opening or hatchway in the deck of a ship, large enough to admit a man, and with a lid for covering it, also, a like hole in the side or bottom of a ship.
  • n. An opening in the roof of a house, with a lid.
  • n. The lid or door which covers or closes an opening in a roof, wall, or the like.
  • intransitive v. To run with affected precipitation; to hurry; to bustle; to scuddle.
  • transitive v. To cut a hole or holes through the bottom, deck, or sides of (as of a ship), for any purpose.
  • transitive v. To sink by making holes through the bottom of.
  • transitive v. To defeat, frustrate, abandon, or cause to be abandoned; -- of plans, projects, actions, hopes.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Naut, to cut holes through the bottom or sides of (a ship) for any purpose; specifically, to sink by making holes through the bottom.
  • To run hurriedly, or with short, hurried steps; hurry.
  • n. A broad, shallow dish; a platter. Compare scuttle-dish.
  • n. A deep vessel of sheet-iron, copper, or brass, used for holding coal in small amounts; a coal-scuttle or coal-hod. See coal-scuttle.
  • n. A swabber used for cleaning a bakers' oven.
  • n. Nautical, a small hatchway or opening in the deck, with a lid for covering it; also, a like hole in the side of a ship, or through the coverings of her hatchways; by extension, a hole in general.
  • n. A square hole in the wall or roof of a house, covered with a lid; also, the lid that covers such an opening.
  • n. A quick pace; a short, hurried run; a mincing, affected gait.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. to move about or proceed hurriedly
  • n. an entrance equipped with a hatch; especially a passageway between decks of a ship
  • n. container for coal; shaped to permit pouring the coal onto the fire


Middle English skottell, from Old French escoutille, possibly from Spanish escotilla.
Middle English scutel, basket, from Old English, dish, from Latin scutella; see scullery.
Middle English scottlen; possibly akin to scud.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English scutel ("dish, platter"), from Latin scutella, diminutive form of Latin scutra ("flat tray, dish"), perhapes related to Latin scutum ("shield"); compare German Schüssel (Wiktionary)
From Middle French ( > French écoutille), from Old Norse skaut ("corner of a cloth, of a sail"), akin to Gothic 𐍃𐌺𐌰𐌿𐍄𐍃 (skauts, "projecting edge, fringe"), German Schoß[2]. (Wiktionary)


  • When the wash receded they followed it with an incredibly rapid twinkling of little legs; and when again the wave rushed, shoreward, _scuttle, scuttle, scuttle_ went they, keeping always just at the edge of the water.

    The Gray Dawn

  • The word scuttle has appeared in 70 New York Times articles in the past year, including on June 24 in "Fusion Experiment Faces New Hurdles," by John Upton:

    NYT > Home Page

  • Learn more about the word "scuttle" and see usage examples across a range of subjects on the dictionary.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Flannigan helped the captain scuttle the vessel by setting explosive charges.

    Heroes or Villains?

  • If he has ever seen the word scuttle it has been in the Jingo Press, where the "policy of scuttle" is used whenever we give up something to a small Power like Liberals, instead of giving up everything to a great Power, like Imperialists.

    Tremendous Trifles

  • It was curious how the humour of calling a scuttle

    Love and Mr Lewisham

  • It was curious how the humour of calling a scuttle "kettle" had evaporated.

    Love and Mr. Lewisham

  • The scuttle was the interesting point with him; and he saw that it was provided with a hasp and staple, so that the entrance could be secured by a padlock, though that was missing.

    Taken by the Enemy

  • Each of these episodes are played so broadly they kind of scuttle the ship in the other regard.

    Don't even think it

  • And I think when you kind of scuttle around and go, "Oh, that ` s too much for the American population to hear" ...

    CNN Transcript Sep 21, 2007


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  • a hatchway as in scuttlebutt

    January 9, 2009

  • coal or fireplace scuttle also called a coal hod

    February 6, 2008