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Is there a word that describes a person who spreads others' secrets without their permission?

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  • The title uses the word "likes" to tell. If a said secret is something illegal you would have a civic or moral obligation to report such activities. Having knowledge of this could make you an accessory to the fact or possibly a coconspirator. – user15266 May 11 '16 at 1:18
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    Do you mean the person shares them on purpose (to gain something from sharing) or because he is oblivious that he is not supposed to share, or does not care what the secret owner wants, or cannot control what he is saying and realises the mistake once he hears himself saying it? This will make a difference in the choice of word. – rumtscho May 11 '16 at 8:11
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    How will you use this word? Do you want a noun or an adjective? – curiousdannii May 11 '16 at 13:33
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    In Chinese there's a phrase which literally translates as "(somebody) has got a big mouth" to describe such a situation. – Vim May 11 '16 at 23:53
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    We should start calling them "a Snowden" ;-) – AviD May 13 '16 at 7:07

11 Answers 11

19

"gossiper" fits perfectly. (not specific for secrets, though)

  • a person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others - TFD

"yenta" is a slang word for a person, especially a woman, who is considered to be meddlesome or gossipy.

  • a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others. e.g. "the couple's loud quarrel had the building's yentas yapping for a week." MW

related words: blab, gossip, gossipmonger, newsmonger, rumormonger, scandalmonger, tabby, talebearer, taleteller, tattle, tattler, tattletale, telltale, whisperer.

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    +1. It fits well, but not perfectly. It does not strictly imply that the gossip contains secrets. Update: "Yenta" seems quite close. – Dog Lover May 11 '16 at 1:24
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    The common form is "gossip". – WhatRoughBeast May 11 '16 at 1:49
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    'Blabbermouth' is the colloquial term we use in the South. :) – Ryan Griggs May 13 '16 at 5:09
  • Yenta is Yiddish for "gossiper". – AviD May 13 '16 at 7:08
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    I've never heard "yenta" used – Zach Saucier May 13 '16 at 15:23
88

A blabbermouth, perhaps

('blab' - to talk much or ineptly; to chatter, babble, ‘blether' (OED))

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    In my experience, the word "blabbermouth" is much more commonly used to describe someone who cannot be trusted with secrets, than simply a person who talks too much. (AmE) – Oldbag May 11 '16 at 12:01
  • @Oldbag, interesting point, but I'm not so sure. I don't think there's any nuance of betrayal in blabbermouth? – Brad Thomas May 11 '16 at 13:54
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    The Dictionary of American Slang gives it as "A person who talks too much, esp one who reveals personal or secret matters indiscreetly." – SirTechSpec May 11 '16 at 18:21
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    @BradThomas: Indeed, I've always seen it in context to describe people that are simply bad at keeping secrets, and spill the beans by accident or are easily manipulated to talk. – whatsisname May 12 '16 at 5:49
  • @oldbag the definition you gave sounds like one who blathers as opposed to blabs ? – k1eran May 17 '16 at 15:17
31

indiscreet

saying or doing things that tell people things that should be secret or that embarrass people:
In an indiscreet moment, the president let his genuine opinions be known.
They have been rather indiscreet about their affair.
cambridge.org

25

Try tattler. It means

One who tells secrets/tattles

There is also whistle-blower. It means

One who reveals something covert or who informs against another.

Also, tattletale, which roughly means the same thing.

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    Note, that whistle-blower has a more positive connotation than tattler or gossiper. A whistle-blower is someone who reveals illegal activity which would be harmful for others if not revealed, so it's usually done with good intentions. A tattler might also reveal illegal activity (like minor theft), but a whistle-blower is usually someone who reveals abuse or a cospiracy, in order to save others from falling into it. – vsz May 11 '16 at 5:29
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    I agree. A whistle-blower does not just blab out secrets willy-nilly because he doesn't care or doesn't know they are secret. A whistle-blower exposes secrets despite knowing they are secret because he believes he has a moral obligation to expose them. Plus, at least to me, whistle-blowing involves taking a personal risk. E.g. government whistle-blowers know they are doing something illegal and might go to jail for it, but they do it anyway because they feel that the greater good of having those secrets exposed is more important than their own personal well-being. – Jörg W Mittag May 11 '16 at 11:31
  • I agree with the comments on 'whistle-blower' and would add that a 'tattle-tale' would generally be understood to be someone who passed information to someone with authority, in hopes of getting the person the secret was about into trouble, it is more like a petty version of being a stool-pigeon. I would upvote 'tattler' as an answer. – Spagirl May 12 '16 at 13:40
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loose-lipped, as in "loose lips sink ships".

12

There are also numerous colloquialisms, such as stool pigeon, or rat, or narc, or blab (blabber-mouth), and probably many more I am not remembering.

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  • See also the verb "to squeal." – Ketura May 11 '16 at 15:22
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    Also snitch. – Kevin Workman May 11 '16 at 16:38
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    Other than "blab", these all refer in particular to revealing incriminating secrets (perhaps not literally a crime, but things that are bad in the opinion of whoever the secret was revealed to). If you somehow know someone's PIN and you reveal it then you might be a jerk but it doesn't make you a narc. – Steve Jessop May 11 '16 at 17:04
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A bigmouth

From Oxford Learner's Dictionary:

big mouth noun

(also bigmouth)
(informal)

a person who talks a lot, especially about himself or herself, and who cannot keep secrets

I'd use to describe someone who isn't deliberately leaking secrets. A bigmouth is usually someone who unthinkingly let out a secret.

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  • I've almost heard the word bigmouth used to describe someone arrogant or full of themselves or who boasts a lot, I've never heard it used to describe someone who doesn't keep secrets. – Anubian Noob May 13 '16 at 2:31
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Tattletale which means:

a child who tells a parent, teacher, etc., about something bad or wrong that another child has done : a child who tattles on another child

It is an old English adjective describing a person one would not trust with a secret - factual or false!

[Merriam-Webster]

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  • Certainly "tattletale" was the term used when I was a kid. – Hot Licks May 13 '16 at 1:34
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Someone who spills the beans.

According to Google, it means:

reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly.

According to The Free Dictionary, it means:

to give away a secret or a surprise

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The other answers have some good ones. I just wanted to add traitor to the list (at least, if they were let in on the secret and knew they weren't supposed to tell).

This also reminds me of the concept of doxing (if they weren't intentionally let in on the secrets). Doxxer appears to be in usage.

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I would use gossip not gossiper.

A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gossip

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