Are you looking for a way to tell someone a secret without blowing your source? If so, you could use the phrase “I heard it through the grapevine” when someone asks you where you got the information. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of the expression.
“I heard it through the grapevine” is a suitable expression for use when you’re trying to cover your source or make a statement where you don’t know the source.
It’s a common way of saying you’re gossiping about other people or events with no reliable source or using a source you don’t want to disclose.
“Did you hear that Jackie and Robert are on the rocks with their marriage right now? They tell me that they’re just about ready to call it quits. Remember, you didn’t hear that from me; you heard it through the grapevine.”
“The California Raisins were so cool; I remember reading the strip in the Archie comic books and watching that animated show as a kid. What was the theme song again? Oh yeah, “I heard it through the grapevine!”
“No, that’s not from a verifiable source. I heard it through the grapevine; it could be fake news, I guess.”
“I heard it through the grapevine, not from anyone that knows them, so it all could be a bunch of nonsense.”
The origin of the saying “heard it through the grapevine” goes back to the invention of the “grapevine telegraph” in 1852. This model was a direct, “down-the-wire” system, and people likened the wires extending from the machine to the coils of a vine.
However, language experts believe that the origin of the saying comes from The song recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips, “I heard it through the grapevine,”: released in 1967, and by Marvin Gaye a year later in 1968.
While the songs popularized the phrase, they inspired the hit kids cartoon series “The California Raisins” in the 1990s. The show would have animated raisins acting as rockstars, and the song, “I heard it through the grapevine,” was the California Raisins number-one single.
Phrases Similar to Heard it Through the Grapevine
- A little bird told me.
- I heard about it from someone else.
- It’s up in the air.
Phrases Opposite to Heard it Through the Grapevine
- That’s a fact.
- That’s from a credible source.
- Verify first, trust later.
What is the Correct Saying?
- I heard it through the grapevine.
Ways People May Say Heard it Through the Grapevine Incorrectly
Some people may use the phrase incorrectly when they are talking about facts. Typically, the grapevine is an unreliable source of information.
Therefore, one would assume that any information moving through the grapevine would be nothing more than a rumor. So, if you tell someone a fact, you would state your source, not say, “I heard it through the grapevine.”
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Heard it Through the Grapevine
You can use the saying, “heard I through the grapevine,” when you’re gossiping with other people. You could use it when you’re trying to hide your source or when you have no authority but a rumor. The phrase typically means exactly that, a rumor, and there is no evidence for your statement or claim.
However, there is a chance there is some truth to the rumor or that it is a fact. However, “the grapevine” is usually not considered a verifiable source of information. So, if someone were to ask you where you heard about the data, and you were unsure of the source, you would say, “I heard it through the grapevine.”