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What is Gossip?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Gossip is a broad term that is defined in several different ways. In general, gossip involves the creation and repetition of rumors regarding an individual who is not present to offer his or her perspective on the purported events under discussion. Generally, gossip has little or no basis in fact and is sometimes intended to convey a negative image of an individual. This process of spreading rumors is utilized in just about every setting from reporting on the movements of public figures to discussing situations involving family, friends, and acquaintances.

It is not unusual for people who engage in the spreading of gossip to not consider themselves to be gossips. The rationalization is that the individual is simply conveying information that was shared from another source and thus is not the author of the data. Thus, he or she is not responsible for the reliability of the information. Also, there may be no real malice behind the distribution of the rumor. This is often the case when repeating a rumor about friends who are presumed to be going through a rough period with a spouse, or there is speculation on why an acquaintance recently left a job.

However, gossip is not always negative in content. It is possible to create and spread rumors about rumored positive events or attributes of another person. For example, the word may begin to spread that an individual is thinking about marrying someone that he or she has dated for some time. While the rumor may in fact be considered good news to those that hear it, the information may not be factual and could lead to negative consequences for the subject of the gossip.

Essentially, gossip has its roots in speculation and conjecture about events or attributes of people rather than focusing solely on facts that can be easily proved. Just about everyone engages in gossip in some manner. Business associates may share gossip about people they work with. Neighbors may speculate on details of the private lives of other people living in the neighborhood. Even well meaning friends may get together and hash over what they think they know about a mutual friend who is not present. There is no setting for human interaction that automatically precludes the potential for gossip. Gossip is spread through verbal, print, and electronic communications.

While many forms of gossip are relatively innocuous, gossip has the potential to ruin lives and reputations. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to double check all types of information regarding other people before passing it on to another individual.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By oasis11 — On Nov 18, 2010

Comfyshoes-I remember that, I just could not believe he was gone.

I know that Perez Hilton, the flamboyant celebrity blogger offers the latest celebrity gossip. His site is really entertaining.

Sometimes celebrity gossip goes too far and can even be cruel. Many of the tabloids like “The Star” and “The Enquirer” take pictures of celebrities at their worst moments and discuss their weight problem at length, or worse discuss a terminal illness and shows the most unflattering pictures of them.

People should be afforded dignity especially if they are suffering from a terminal illness. Farrah Faucet, Patrick Swayze, and Michael Douglas all have had images on the covers of these magazines that should have remained private.

Taking advantage of people when they are dying is not only cruel, but it destroys the image that many of these celebrities had hoped to be remembered for. Profiting for someone’s illness or death is horrible.

By comfyshoes — On Nov 18, 2010

BrickBack-A lot of time gossip news is a distraction from our own lives which is why so many people like celebrity gossip.

Although most of the time the TV gossip is frivolous there are times when the gossip actually becomes news and is considered important.

When Michael Jackson died there was a lot of speculation as to whether he could have been saved and a lot of blame was placed on his cardiologist, who was the only person with him at the time of his death.

People were genuinely saddened and many watched the televised memorial in which his children spoke. It was a touching moment.

By BrickBack — On Nov 18, 2010

Bhutan- Another element of celebrity gossip that appeals to a lot of people is that gossip makes the celebrity seem more like a real person and not such an iconic figure.

Sometimes we can relate to these celebrities who really have nothing in common with the average Americans.

With the death of Anna Nicole, many people could not get enough of the story because they really felt bad about the tragic situation and worried about her daughter.

Although it was well documented that Anna Nicole had a drug problem, the death of her son must have been a heartbreak that most people could not even imagine.

But her death a few months later made the circumstances very suspicious and many people felt that her lawyer friend actually contributed to her death.

There was also the element of her daughter who Howard K. Stern claimed was his even though she looked just like the biological father Larry.

Luckily the biological father finally got custody of his daughter and Howard K. Stern was sentenced to three years in prison. This was the latest gossip on the this three year story.

By Bhutan — On Nov 18, 2010

Celebrity gossip like that found on Entertainment Tonight or TMZ gives a glimpse at what a celebrity’s life might be like.

People enjoy TV gossip because they want to know what is going on with their favorite celebrities as many people are fascinated with comings and goings of many celebrities.

Sometimes negative gossip news makes attracts more viewers because negative information is more shocking than positive information.

For example, there was a lot of online gossip and gossip pictures about the divorce of Kate and Jon from the Jon and Kate Plus 8 show.

The show had the highest ratings on the episode where they actually decided to end their marriage. There was so much gossip news about their marriage going sour that over 10 million views watched this cable television show to see how if the celeb gossip was true and how they dealt with the split.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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