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What is Gossip?

A recent newspaper article cites a British study as saying men gossip as much as women. I have often wondered what people really mean by the word "gossip." Is gossip any conversation that refers to an absent third party? Is history merely gossip about the dead?

Obviously, people are interested in other people, both dead and alive, and talk about them frequently. Is gossip any chatty talk or is it, by definition, always critical and negative?

Here is what seems to me to be the biblical view of gossip.

·Gossip is sensational speech about the private, personal lives of other people. (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19)

As a famous socialite was reputed to say, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.”

·Gossip is usually unsubstantiated speech based on rumor and hearsay. (see Proverbs 17:9)

As one gossip said to another, “I’ve already told you more than I know.”

·Gossip is covert speech, typically comprised of tales whispered behind a person’s back. (see Proverbs 18:8)

·Gossip is unnecessary speech, often amounting to foolish and idle chatter. (see 2 Timothy 5:13)

·Gossip is unflattering and unkind speech whose intentions are dubious at best. (see Romans 1:29-30)

One form of gossip is discussing other people’s character flaws. Another is listening to such talk and discussion.

·Gossip is generally harmful and hurtful speech, harmful to reputations and hurtful to feelings when discovered. (see 2 Corinthians 12:20)

·Gossip at its worst is deliberately malicious, untrue speech, the essence of slander. (see 3 John 10)

Gossip, I would conclude, is unverified information about a person’s private life that he or she might prefer to keep hidden. To avoid gossip, we should apply the Rotarian test to what we say:

1.Is it the truth?

2.Is it fair to all concerned?

3.Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4.Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 26, 2007 12:57 PM.

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