Gossip

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Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation.

In the last decade, gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins.[1] This has found gossip is an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity.[2] 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.[3]

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.[citation needed][dubious ]

Contents

Etymology

The word is from Old English godsibb, from god and sibb, the term for godparents, i.e. a child's godfather or godmother. In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, one who delights in idle talk, a newsmonger, a tattler.[4] In the early 19th century, the term was extended from the talker to the conversation of such persons. The verb to gossip, meaning "to be a gossip", first appears in Shakespeare.

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