Gossip can be placed into these categories, according to sociologist and author Fredrick Koenig, psychologists Jack Levin and Robert Rosnow, and author Patricia Meyer Spacks:

Name-Dropping: Indigenous to Washington, but reputed to be prevalent elsewhere. Gives the gossiper a sense of importance; can be a turn-off if done more than twice in one social evening.

Name-Calling: Typically indulged in by someone who feels insecure or unsure of his own character.

Moralizing: By disclosing others' crimes and good works, one gives and gets a sense of what is the norm -- what is unacceptable and what is admired.

Planted Gossip: When an event is painful or embarrassing, such as a divorce or a job loss, the subject of the gossip (known as the "gossipee") may selectively choose to tell one person, preferably a gifted gossip, who will undoubtedly spread the news in a matter of minutes, thus sheltering the gossipee from painful public disclosure. This can be misleading if the gossipee embellishes or changes the facts to protect himself.

Triangle Gossip: Usually between a husband and wife who get comfort from their own stress by talking about a third person and his/her problems. Such indulgence serves as a "metaphor in marriage," and rarely occurs between dating or engaged couples, who prefer to talk about themselves.

Joking Gossip: When gossip has personal implications, it may be disguised as a joke. Such calculated joking can be a passive form of anger or warning.

Irresistible Gossip: The Good: Did you hear Joe won the negligence suit? The Bad: I understand Joe's legal fees will barely leave him enough to celebrate.