The word gossip originally meant O.E. godsibb “godparent,” from God. Notice how its meaning slides from a perfectly respectable title for either man or woman into triviality – and as it goes, it becomes attached exclusively to women:
+ sibb “relative” (see sibling). Extended in M.E. to “any familiar acquaintance” (mid-14c.), especially to woman friends invited to attend a birth, later to “anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk” (1560s). Sense extended 1811 to “trifling talk, groundless rumor.” The verb meaning “to talk idly about the affairs of others” is from 1620s.
Look at some of its synonyms: chatter,chitchat,hearsay,scandal,slander,babble,blather,blether,meddling.
That – and my wonderful Book Club – inspired the following thought.
I went to a meeting of my book club on Wednesday.
Ten women (only five of us that day)
Ten women; retired; nothing better to do than to meet and talk about books.
Among those ten women are teachers, writers, artists,
economists, scientists, historians,
travellers, administrators, patrons of charities,
linguists, directors, librarians, scholars…
Who actually think that
there isn’t anything better to do
than to meet and talk about books.
we chattered about communication between humans and animals
We babbled about the reality of ideas,
the idea of reality.
We gossiped about the future of the human race
And its past.
It was a good meeting.
Shame there weren’t any men there; it could have become a discussion.