I have hopes of taking the proverbial high road with this blog. I’ll be writing about intriguing etymologies, remarkable usage, quotes, downright strange words, and other topics that might tickle the fancy of fellow wordmongers.
In my attempt to avoid gossip, I’ve decided to start with gossip.
The word gossip comes from the Old English godsibb, a combination of god and sibb, the first part meaning, well, God, and the latter meaning relative, sibling, or sponsor. So in the 1300s a gossip was something akin to a godparent. Once the 1400s rolled around, the meaning referred mostly to the women who gathered together to attend a birth. Either birthing wasn’t the only thing going on among such women, or some cranky spouse who didn’t care for his wife’s friends threw some misogyny into the mix, as by the 1500s the word referred to anyone involved in “idle talk.” It wasn’t until the 1600s that the noun became verbified to refer to the talk itself more than the speakers. The meaning got uglier still in the1800s, when the definition began to include “groundless rumor.”
Over a hundred years after that, Truman Capote, target of gossip and downright literate guy, wrote, “…all literature is gossip.”
So there, I’ve got all the gossip out of my system.
Thanks to this week’s sources: the OED, merriam webster, wordreference,com, & etymonline.com.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.