25 phrases and idioms to help you gossip in American English

25 phrases and idioms to help you gossip in American English

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated July 5, 2022

Pssst! Do you have the “lowdown” on the latest news? Gossiping, or talking about people when they are not around, happens all over the world. Let’s help you with some gossip idioms to improve your conversational American English.

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Do you want to gossip in American English?

We all talk about our friends, family, and classmates now and then. Sometimes it can be positive gossip: “I heard Emilio got straight A’s last semester!” Other times it can be negative gossip: “I heard Emilio flunked all his classes last semester!”

Either way, we have to admit that we love a shocking rumor.  A “rumor” is a story about somebody that they did not tell you. For example, there is a rumor that David and Victoria Beckham are splitting up, but they always claim to be happily married.

Rumors and gossip are all about repeating things we overheard and then exaggerating them into bigger news.

Can you recognize American idioms about rumors? When you hear these phrases, you can be sure your friend is about to share some gossip with you.

5 American idioms to describe gossip

Here are five phrases that all refer to gossip. The dirt, the tea, and the lowdown are all neutral terms meaning gossip. Shade and talking trash are American phrases that went mainstream from the popular TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race. They refer specifically to negative gossip.

  1. The Dirt
  2. The Tea
  3. The Lowdown
  4. Shade
  5. Talking Trash

10 phrases for sharing gossip

Here are 10 examples of how to start a gossip conversation. If your friend approaches you and says one of these American English phrases, it means “I have some gossip to tell you.” They probably want to talk to you in private, away from the rest of the group.

  1. Pssst!
  2. Have you heard?
  3. Guess what?
  4. You’ll never guess what I heard.
  5. I need to spill my guts/I need to spill the beans.
  6. I have juicy information.
  7. I can’t keep this to myself.
  8. Let’s have a chit-chat.
  9. Let’s have a gabfest.
  10. Let’s have a heart-to-heart.

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5 gossip sayings to express shock

These five idioms to respond to gossip might sound confusing. For English language learners, they sound like you don’t believe the news or you want the person to stop talking. For American English speakers in the middle of a “gabfest”, these phrases are understood as an exaggerated way to express interest.

  1. OMG – oh my god/goodness
  2. Get out (of here)!
  3. No way!
  4. Don’t even go there!
  5. Shut up!

The next phrases are also good for expressing shock. They also reinforce that you are interested in the gossip and your friend should keep talking.

  1. Scandalous
  2. Jeez
  3. Holy crap!
  4. For real?
  5. That’s messed up

1. Are your ears burning?

When somebody gossips about you, it is considered embarrassing. This might make your ears turn red or look like they are “burning”. If somebody says this to you, it means your name was just mentioned in their conversation and they are being polite by letting you know about it.

2. Speak of the devil

Similar to the phrase above, this means the “devil” or the person who was just being gossiped about has arrived. Perhaps you are gossiping about Laura and she just walked in the door. This is a secret phrase to end the gossip quickly before Laura can overhear.

3. Eavesdropping

“Eavesdropping” is a phrase we use to describe listening in on a conversation that we are not a part of. For example, if a group of girls talking in the restroom is not aware that you are listening, that is called eavesdropping. 

4. Diss

Diss is mainly used in hip hop music to insult someone. The word itself is a slang word for gossip and usually means that an insult or criticism has been spoken against a person. “Don’t diss me, man!”

5. Burn

This phrase also describes an especially harsh or embarrassing piece of gossip. Let’s imagine that I heard Laura is going to break up with Emilio because he is a bad kisser. You can respond with these phrases to express pity. Getting “dissed” or “burned” can also be used as a verb. 

Gossiping isn’t always nice, but it is a universal indulgence. Whispering secrets is like eating a rich dessert. It feels good in the moment but you might pay for it later. Now that you know these sayings, you can chat naturally about gossip and rumors with Americans.  

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her tech copywriting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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