phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Scuttle

Posted by Word Camel on February 20, 2002

In Reply to: Re: I forgot to add posted by The Fallen on February 20, 2002

: : : : "He alleges that Microsoft scuppered a 1998 deal with Compaq to produce..."

: : : : Anyone know what "scuppered" means?

: : : I looked up scupper in an American dictionary where it explains that a scupper is a nautical term for the holes at the side of a ship that allow the water to run off.

: : : I have also heard it used to describe destroying a ship - if not by sinking than grounding. "After passengers ceased to visit the aging steam boat, the owners scuppered it."

: : : So in the sentence you gave, it means that Microsoft deliberately destroyed the deal with Compac. And as it happens, that's completely consistent with Microsoft.

: : : I suspect the Brits will find this use of scuppered in their dictionaries and it will be in the OED of course.

: : Scuppering is deliberate.

: Camel is entirely right. To scupper is a nautical term meaning to sink a ship deliberately by opening the scuppers. To clarify Camel's run-off holes, scuppers are sealed hatches/holes below the waterline that can be opened to drain the bilges and/or lower decks if the ship is ever in dry dock. Sir Francis Drake famously sailed into Cadiz in the 16th century to scupper a large portion of the Spanish fleet, and many a brave captain has scuppered his own ship during wartime in order to prevent it falling into enemy hands - as happened with the French naval fleet at Toulon at the beginning of the 2nd World War.

: A strangely similar word also used to describe the deliberate sinking of a ship is "to scuttle". I have no idea if this is just coincidence.

: As for Microsoft deliberately getting up to some corporate naughtiness, who'da thunk it from the oh so whiter than white Church of St. Bill of Seattle?

I looked up scuttle in the American Heritage Dictionary. Evidently it is "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." or the "lid or hatch of such an opening."

Do you suppose the scupper has a scuttle? And then there's the scuttlebutt which means the drinking fountain or the cask where crew members got their daily supply of water. Scuttlebutt also means gossip. So gossiping around the watercoolers has been around longer than... watercoolers.