Learn English – Are “gossip” and “rumour” perfect synonyms

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Are the words gossip and rumour perfect synonyms or is there a fine distinction between them? The only difference I'm aware of is that the second one is spelled differently in British and American English.

Best Answer

I'd say that rumor (as I spell it), like report or story, is a word denoting a particular type of narrative. This shows up in many constructions:

  • It was reported that all lives were lost.
  • It was rumored that all lives were lost.
  • The story that she left him is untrue.
  • The rumor that she left him is untrue.

It's not so much the spreading of the rumor, or the actual talking or writing, that rumor refers to; rather, it's the fact that there is talk, and more importantly, what the content of that talk is.

Gossip, on the other hand, denotes the social activity, and its participants, and their motives, and their strategies and tactics. The actual content of the talk is secondary to its perceived import, trajectory, and impact.

The nominalizations are telling: A gossip is a person -- A rumor is a story.