An English teacher in high school once said, “If you know the Bible, Greek mythology, and Shakespeare, you’re set up to get most of the allusions in the world.” I would add that if you know Shakespeare and nautical slang, you’re set up to understand nonsense words we use without thinking twice.
Scuttlebutt, for instance. A scuttlebutt was originally a drinking barrel on a ship, and it became synonymous with gossip because the men would gather there and chatter as they quenched their thirst. That’s right: Sailors had water cooler talk! Probably will-they-or-won’t-they talk about Captain Ahab and that whale.