Gossip is idle talk or rumour about the personal or private affairs of others. It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. This term is used pejoratively by its reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted, and it also describes idle chat, a rumor of personal, or trivial nature.
Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me." Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups. With the advent of the internet gossip is now widespread on an instant basis, from one place in the world to another what used to take a long time to filter through is now instant.
The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of élite members of certain communities.
Famous quotes containing the word gossip:
“Both gossip and joking are intrinsically valuable activities. Both are essentially social activities that strengthen interpersonal bondswe do not tell jokes and gossip to ourselves. As popular activities that evade social restrictions, they often refer to topics that are inaccessible to serious public discussion. Gossip and joking often appear together: when we gossip we usually tell jokes and when we are joking we often gossip as well.”
—Aaron Ben-ZeEv, Israeli philosopher. The Vindication of Gossip, Good Gossip, University Press of Kansas (1994)
“I am grown by sympathy a little eager and sentimental, but leave me alone, and I should relish every hour and what it brought me, the pot-luck of the day, as heartily as the oldest gossip in the bar-room.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Gossip isnt scandal and its not merely malicious. Its chatter about the human race by lovers of the same. Gossip is the tool of the poet, the shop-talk of the scientist, and the consolation of the housewife, wit, tycoon and intellectual. It begins in the nursery and ends when speech is past.”
—Phyllis McGinley (19051978)