Question: What is gossip?
Answer: The word "gossip" is not found in most translations of the Bible. Gossip is defined as, "Idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others" (RHCD). The closest thing to a biblical definition of gossip would be the following: "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not" (1 Tim. 5: 13, emphasis mine, dm).
Gossip is potentially destructive. "Did you hear, Mr. Smith was seen with another woman" or "Mr. Jones was caught telling a lie and lost his job." Mr. Smith may have been in an innocent conversation with a woman when seen by the gossipper. Mr. Jones did tell a lie and was dismissed from his job, but what is not told is that Mr. Jones (now 50) was eighteen years old and has maintained a perfect job record since. Gossip is often half-truths and even truth that does not need to be said.
Man is held responsible for his speech. There has been more mass destruction from the misuse of the human tongue than from all the wars combined! James wrote, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindeth! (Jas. 3: 5.) James continued, "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell" (vs. 6). Jesus said, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matt. 12: 36, 37).
Words are used for good or evil (cp. Prov. 15: 2-4). David prayed, "Let the words of my mouth...be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord..." (Ps. 19: 14).