Heard it Through the Grapevine Origin?

It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday

It’s one of those sayings that I’ve heard all my life. I know what it means, I heard it through the rumor mill, but why do they call it a grapevine. Even the song doesn’t clear this mystery up.

It’s so well known that even Dictionary.com defines it as a person-to-person method of spreading rumors, gossip, information, etc., by informal or unofficial conversation, letter writing, or the like. But why a grapevine?

My theory was, while workers were harvesting grapes one would hear gossip a couple of vines over by unsuspecting gabbers. Or, maybe people start talking too much when they’ve had an overage of wine made from these grapes.

It seems the best theory is that it came from telegraph messages being sent during the civil war. The telegraph lines were strung from pole to pole and resembled the strings and poles used in the vineyards. When someone got a telegraph it would be said they got it through the grapevine.

Another theory is connected to a tavern in Greenwich Village, New York City called the Grapevine Tavern. This was a spot Union officers and Confederate spies would drink and overhear the gossip. The first time a citation containing the expression was published was 1852, by the Grape Vine Telegraph Line. And the long and short forms of the expression appeared in the quote sent.


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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