Where does the word “gossip” come from and What does gossip mean?

Sponsors for infants in the rite of baptism were, at one time, held to contract a spiritual kinship with the infant in whose name they took the vows.

We still observe that kinship by the terms we use for sponsors, “godparents,” parents in God; “godfather,” “godmother.” Such godparents thus were held to be spiritually related to the other members of the family.

Hence, in a family containing several children, there would be a number of men and women who, though not related to each other by blood, could claim kinship through their ties with this family.

Such folks were said to be godsib in olden times, that is, “related in God,” for sib means “related.” That gave them the privilege of talking with each other about the family to which they were mutually akin, and about its various members, probably also about such of their own number as might be absent.

Undoubtedly they exercised the privilege, to such an extent, in fact, that godsib became a term for anyone who entertained others with rumors, idle talk, and tattletales.

And, just as god spell became corrupted to “gospel” through assimilation of the letter “d,” so godsib became corrupted to gossip.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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