May 07, 2007


Grapevine - Informal/Unofficial path of verbal communication (by means of gossip and rumor)

Some wise man claimed, "Gossip is nature's telephone." ....and we'll soon discover, how!!! :)
The term comes from the expression, "grapevine telegraph", and was supposedly invented in US during the early 1850's, after the invention of telegraph in 1840's. Samuel Morse's first line was opened between Washington and Baltimore on 24th May 1844 and was an immediate success. The straight copper wires of electric telegraph were supposed to carry truthful information. The term "grapevine telegraph" came into being to accentuate the idea of distorted information that travels by word of mouth and drew its inspiration from the twisted stems of the grapevine (but like real telegraph is capable of transmitting vital messages quickly over long distances).

The first recorded usage, according to John Lighter in The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, was in a political dictionary of 1852, which included the sentence "By the Grape Vine Telegraph Line .......we have received the following ". There are various early references that suggest that it was associated with clandestine communication among Southern blacks, especially the slaves and gained high popularity and acceptance during the American Civil War period.

Trivia: It was widely acknowledged that the blacks' communications network was extremely useful to the Union cause, as John G. Nicolay and John Hay reported in "Abraham Lincoln: A History" in 1888, calling it "one of the most important and reliable sources of knowledge to the Union commanders in the various fields, which later in the war came to be jocosely designated as the 'grape-vine telegraph'".

Pic : Neighborly gossips in the Altstadt in Sindelfingen, Germany (Sourced form :


666 said...

thats interesting .. its amazing how this words enter the common language. what amazes me is how humans draw associations from things around them.. fascinating how a twisted grapevine passed its meaning to a twisted cable ! and what remained after years is just grapevine.. everyone forgot about the wires..

till someone like us attempted to dig it out:-)

Radha said...

Firstly, thanks for losing that sticky post :)
Very informative post, moi. And a cute pic to go with it!! I dont know why gossip is always associated with women though!! Men gossip so much more :))

Jas Bhambra said...

As 666 commented, it is truly amazing how the language adopts words and phrases inspired and erived from most commonest of things.
I agree with you Radha, men do gossip more than women!

Moi said...

666 : that's why language is such a living, breathing entity ........and u may read abt origins of "gossip" ..very interesting too..i may do a post on that one too!!!! :)

Radha , Jas : I gossip a whole lot too.....the whole idea of grapevine comes from men..women were not fighting the Civil war. I hate the way a woman is called "gossip" while all she's indulging is in some friendly talk !!! :DDD