PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Gossip And Rumors: What The Words Mean

So what ARE rumors, exactly? Is there a difference between a rumor and a piece of gossip?

Well, this is what characterizes a rumor:

  • A rumor is a piece of information or a story that has not been verified, meaning that the person telling it doesn't know if it's true or false.

  • Rumors spread from person to person, or can spread from one person to a whole bunch of people at once.

  • Rumors can change slightly each time they're told, so they get more exaggerated over time.

  • Most people who spread rumors don't care if the story is true of not, and don't bother to check it out.

  • A rumor might be true, it might be partially true and partially made up, or it might be totally made up. Unless somebody can definitely say that a story is real or fake, it will stay a rumor.
Here's a good example of a rumor: "I heard that anybody who fails the next history test is going to have to repeat the course over the summer."

Gossip, on the other hand, is a little different:

  • Gossip is talk that is somehow "juicy," meaning it deals with subjects that are shocking or personal.

  • Gossip is usually about things like love and relationships, or private things that people don't talk openly about.

  • Gossip about a person is usually spread behind that person's back.

  • Gossip can be true, false, or a rumor.

  • When a piece of gossip is known to be false, it's a lie, plain and simple.

  • Someone who spreads a lot of gossip can be called "a gossip."

  • If a piece of gossip about somebody is true, it can still be very hurtful because that information may be private and personal.

Here's an example of gossip: "Jane told me that when she tried to ask Craig out to a movie, he got so nervous that he almost fainted!"

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