Amongst sailors there is a superstition that assigned the expression "Jonah" to anyone who is considered to bring misfortune or bad luck (Ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_sailors.27_superstition).

I would like to know if there is any equivalent slang for a person who intentionally spreads gossip or false rumours, or, let's say, someone who is considered the rotten apple (or black sheep) in a group and normally the one responsible for destabilizing or segregating this group. (I have such person in my family!)

I've already read the article What is the single word that describes a person who always gossips? but those expressions don't quite fit my question since i'm looking for a slang or popular expression.


  • ... Big mouth. May 19, 2017 at 4:22
  • Here's another: troublemaker. May 19, 2017 at 6:11
  • Rotten apple and black sheep (as already mentioned by you) convey this sense. May 20, 2017 at 2:51
  • 1
    A gossip. It's also a noun. Also gossip monger
    – K Dog
    May 26, 2017 at 13:11
  • A person who is a black sheep is not necessarily bad, just viewed as unacceptable by the rest of the family. Oct 6, 2017 at 2:21

4 Answers 4


There are a couple of options I can think of.

A *muckraker (one who engages in muckraking):


[mass noun]
The action of searching out and publicizing scandal about famous people.
[as modifier] ‘a muckraking journalist’

And busybody:


A meddling or prying person.
‘others considered him an interfering busybody’

Neither one really implies false rumours, but the former is definitely less savory/more malicious than the latter.


Scandalmonger -- "A person who stirs up public outrage towards someone or their actions by spreading rumours or malicious gossip." OxfordDictionaries

  • also rumormonger
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 6, 2017 at 22:37

In Eastern Canada at least, someone who stirs up things that most people think would be best ignored may be referred to as a "shit-disturber".


If you don't mind a term that relates to more than a single individual but carries the notion you're asking about, consider the term fifth column for a group of such people working in concert.

The dictionary entry is specific to countries and war, though the cited examples are more general:

fifth column noun A group within a country at war who are sympathetic to or working for its enemies. ‘The creation of a potential fifth column within the organization makes the duties of members of the audit committee far more onerous than before, with no relief in sight.’ Origin The term dates from the Spanish Civil War, when General Mola, leading four columns of troops towards Madrid, declared that he had a fifth column inside the city. - ODO

The wikipedia entry is more generic:

A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. - wikipedia

An individual with a 'fifth column' agenda might be termed a fifth columnist.

fifth columnist countable noun A fifth columnist is someone who secretly supports and helps the enemies of the country or organization they are in. In my role as fifth columnist I sabotaged her washing line with unsolicited aid and hung washing out with no regard for her conventions. (Attributed to James Birrell THE MANANA MAN (2002)) - Collins

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.