25 phrases to help you gossip in American English

25 phrases to help you gossip in American English

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated October 20, 2020

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.  

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 rumour.  A “rumour” is a story about somebody that they did not tell you. For example, there is a rumour that David and Victoria Beckham are splitting up, but they always claim to be happily married.

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

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

Let’s look at 25 American phrases to use for gossip in English


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 phrases to begin a gossip session. 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.

5 Phrases 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!

10 things you just know if you’re American

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

5 More idioms related to gossiping

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.

10 British English phrases that don’t make sense

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

5. Burn

These two phrases describe 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 idioms, you can chat in a natural way about gossip and rumours with Americans.