What is gossip?

Is venting about someone who has hurt you and your loved ones, gossip?

Here’s the situation:
I do my best not to listen to gossip, or speak of others in a manner that makes them sound bad, even if it’s true. I try to change the conversation, and offer something positive. Gossip is really pervasive once you start focusing on not participating in it.

This morning, a dear friend of mine called, at full speed when I picked up the phone. She is deep pain and hurting for a tragic loss, and went on to vent about someone who had hurt her, as well as family members, emotionally (as in, not physically). She also called this person names while venting.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and I only know ‘of’ this other person; I have no reason not to believe my friend. I want to be supportive of her, especially during this difficult painful time.


She needed a friend to vent to.
Glad you were there for her.
It’s not gossip if it happened and she has real hurt feelings from it.
Gossip is the malicious spreading of something you know will defame, dishonor, or misrepresent the person. I don’t really see that here.
Pray for her. What she does with the info may be gossip in the future, but as far as I can tell from what you wrote here, she was reaching out to you in pain.
She needs prayers of healing.

Yes, we are allowed to go to trusted friends to vent and seek advice or prayers.

Look at these two scenarios:

  1. “I’m so upset! Other friend has really hurt me. She is going around saying that I’m a drunk! Why would she do that?!”

  2. “Hi! You’ll never guess who I saw out to lunch with another woman?!”

The first is not gossip while the second is.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

GOSSIP. Idle talk, especially about others. The morality of gossip is determined by the degree to which time is wasted in useless conversation, by the failure in justice or charity committed against others, and by the damage done to people’s reputation by those who gossip.

This is where I’m confused.

What my friend shared with me, definitely hurt the reputation of the other person. I wouldn’t say she ‘wasted’ her time sharing, as she definitely needed to vent, and this person had hurt her and her best friend.

It was truth, and my friend needed to vent. I’m at cross purposes here.

Is she venting to destroy their reputation or to just let off steam? From the sound of it, I do not think she is fully guilty of gossip. When you are overwhelmed emotionally, things come out. People need an ear sometimes to vent frustration

Do you know the other person? I think it is only character assassination if you know who she is talking about. Some may disagree but sometimes exchanging of words helps. I think everyone should be given a fair chance but if word on the street is someone is a huge jerk, do not be surprised if they are that way. Not all rumours are true or even have truth in them. I do now take into account word on the street it may save you from making foolish mistakes.


I won’t go into details, but she had every right to feel as she did, especially during this time she is going through. She wasn’t being malicious; she was MAD at this person, but it appears rightly so.

I think it would lend towards gossip if I passed it along ‘third hand’ to someone else, though (which I won’t, not even here).

I really appreciate y’all going through explanations for me, and helping me to sort it out.

Sometimes I can ‘spot’ gossip in its tracks, and won’t listen to it, try to change the subject, or offer something positive about someone instead. It’s still a struggle, I think. Years of doing it without realizing its harm is hard to overcome. Plus, my curiosity sometimes wants me to listen! But it does me no good as a person. I know people gossip about me, and I know that most of the time, they have he wrong information, anyway.

God bless you!

“For indeed every word is idle that lacks either a reason of just necessity or an intention of pious usefulness. If then an account is required of idle discourse, let us weigh well what punishment awaits much speaking, in which there is also the sin of hurtful words.”

Pope Gregory the Great, Pastoral Rule, Chapter 14

He was explaining the following words of Christ: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.” (Mt 12:36)

Gossip is difficult to define. I wonder how much unnecessary drama had erupted from gossip. I wonder how much I know about people is actually true. I think when gossiping people forget to mention the context of the situation. I hate how people think just because something is true it is no longer gossip or makes it less hurtful. I have found out two people had STDs. I am certain one case is true. It is still sad that I know. Who wants people to know this anyways.

It is not difficult to define. See post #4.

There you are! That is it exactly. Well done! And yes we all need to vent but that venting needs to be in safety and privacy and trust and clearly your ffriend chose well in you.

Wish there were more like you. Where I live gossip is evil . A game of Chinese Whispers goes on constantly I have been hurt and damaged and have now closed the gate on them all!! A way of shaking the dust off my feet…

You are clearly a good listener…

Thank you. That is something I’m working on, and I can use the reinforcement sometimes.

I’m still struggling with gossip, listening and sharing. I’m getting better. One day, I hope to be completely free of both temptations.

Gossip is evil everywhere. I think most people have been a victim of it. I know I have.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.