Are there idioms which have a meaning similar to "heard through the grapevine" ?

  • to hear news from someone who heard that news from someone else.

as in :

  • I heard through the grapevine that she was pregnant, but I don't know anything more.

(Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms)


3 Answers 3

  • "Rumor has it."
  • "Smoke around the campfire."
  • "The word on the street."
  • "Talk around the water cooler."
  • "Word has it."

All above from The Phrase Finder.

  • "... heard it on the wind." (Neptunian)
  • "... a little bird told me." (mikeagg and Neptunian)
  • "... telephone talk." (paraphrased from Neptunian)


Rumor has it that what you heard on the grapevine started out as smoke around the campfire then turned into talk around the water cooler. At least word has it that's the word on the street, but I don't know: I heard it on the wind. Then, gosh, a little bird told me it was only telephone talk.

  • 1
    Similar phrases, but not quite the same are "a little bird told me," or "heard it on the wind."
    – Neptunian
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:21
  • 1
    @Neptunian, "heard it in the wind" is good. Feel free to edit the answer if you want. Give yourself credit please. Or add it as a separate answer--I'm sure to uptick it.
    – JEL
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:25
  • It would be helpful if you added some usage examples.
    – user66974
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:26
  • 1
    Thanks, I am having trouble with the website atm, so I wanted to apologize.
    – Neptunian
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:50
  • @Neptunian, probably my doing; I was editing at the same time you were, and so that pesky atm rejected your edit.
    – JEL
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:52

There's a phrase expressing this that I heard a few years ago that I found completely charming:

  • The scuttlebutt has it...


The scuttlebutt has it that Alice and Bob have been exchanging more than just encrypted messages, if you know what I mean.

"Scuttlebutt" is apparently the 19th Century sailors' equivalent of "water cooler", According to WikiPedia, and others.


Water for immediate consumption on a sailing ship was conventionally stored in a scuttled butt: a butt (cask) which had been scuttled by making a hole in it so the water could be withdrawn. Since sailors exchanged gossip when they gathered at the scuttlebutt for a drink of water, scuttlebutt became Navy slang for gossip or rumours



the rumor mill

: used to refer to the process by which rumors and gossip are originated and circulated among a group of people OED

the bush telephone

(also BrEng & AuEng) the bush telegraph: the way in which people quickly pass important information to other people, especially by talking.

The bush telephone is still a major way of advertising. Therefore, the media concept includes the bush telephone, the newspaper, TV radio, internet, books, movies, art projects, and theater The Deep Democracy of Open Forums: Practical Steps to Conflict Prevention

by hearsay

: unverified information heard or received from another; rumor. American Heritage® Dictionary

by word of mouth

: spoken communication: News of their success spread by word of mouth American Heritage® Dictionary

I heard through the rumor mill/through the bush telephone/by hearsay/by word of mouth that she was pregnant, but I don't know anything more than that.

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