Gossip – Rumour


Dear All,
If you are learning or teaching English, it may be interesting to compare the following two words: “gossip” and “rumour”.

According the Oxford Dictionary, gossip (Ukr. “плітки“) is
1. “Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true” (OD, 2016):

  •  He is a nice guy why is there so much gossip about him?
  • Love affairs are often a subject to gossip.

2. “A conversation about other people; an instance of gossiping” (OD, 2016):

  • She used to start her day with a cup of tea and a gossip.
  • I like having a gossip about what’s new in the space industry.

3. “A person who likes talking about other people’s private lives” (OD, 2016):

  • Remove a gossip from your company and tales will disappear too.
  • Gossips are people who like to speak about other people’s private lives.

Rumour (Ukr. “чутки“) according to the same source is
A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth” (OD, 2016):

  • And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about (Lk.7:17).
  • Rumours on her Olympic achievements have already circulated in the neighbourhood.
  • I have heard many rumours regarding the new city project to improve the area.
  • This story is a rumour, don’t trust it.

The biggest difference between these words is that the word “gossip” has something to do with a private life of a person (often a celebrity) and has a negative connotation. The word “rumour”, in turn, is not necessarily about somebody’s private life and can have a neutral connotation.

Interestingly, when I was searching for examples, I searched King James Version of the Bible and found 0 instances of the word “gossip” and only 9 instances of the word “rumour” there.

Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2016). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

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