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If I'm not wrong, "rumor" means:

A story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth

and "unfounded" means:

Having no foundation or basis in fact

If so, what is the difference between an "unfounded rumor" and a "rumor"?

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Are you asking if the 'unfounded' this is redundant? –  Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 2:09
    
@Mitch Yes, you can say that. –  Pacerier Jun 25 '12 at 10:50
    
An unfounded rumor is a rumor that is unfounded. Not all rumors are unfounded. Many are, but some are not. –  Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 12:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

A rumor might be true or untrue. Even if it's untrue, though, it might be based on fact:

Fact: Alice and Bob have been spending a lot of time together.
Rumor: Alice and Bob are going steady.
Reality: Alice and Bob are not dating, they are partners for a school project.

In contrast, an unfounded rumor would be based on no credible supporting evidence:

"I think Alice and Bob are going out!"
"Really? Why do you say that?"
"I saw them talking in the hallway."

(Alice and Bob could have been talking about anything; Alice may have simply dropped a pencil, and Bob was handing it back to her. They may not even know each other's names! That looks like the birth of an unfounded rumor.)

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A rumor is uncertain or doubtful (but may be true). An unfounded rumor has no foundation or basis in fact (and thus cannot be true).

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The interesting word canard is defined as an unfounded rumor. –  JLG Jun 24 '12 at 16:41
    
I think that someone who stays with you but doesn't pay rent is an unfunded roomer, no? –  MT_Head Jun 24 '12 at 20:42
    
Any rumour, well-founded or otherwise, may turn out to be true (which may well surprise the person spreading the rumour). –  TimLymington Jun 24 '12 at 21:41
    
Only in an unusual sense of "true". Generally, true means "correspondence between claim and reality", which cannot happen unintentionally. (Just as someone from 1066 couldn't argue that electrons exist and be right by luck because he would have no way to specify an electron as the thing he was claiming existed. You can't form a concept that by luck refers to an electron -- you have to make a concept refer to an electron which requires a way to refer to an electron. He could do it by observing static electricity, of course, but then it would be founded.) –  David Schwartz Jun 26 '12 at 7:05
    
@David; 'Little green men live on Mars' is an entirely unfounded statement, both because I am not an astronomer and because astronomers have found no reason to believe it. It may be true nevertheless. –  TimLymington Jun 26 '12 at 12:07

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