Hear it Through the Grapevine

Meaning of Idiom ‘Hear it Through the Grapevine’

To hear something through the grapevine means to learn of it through rumors passing from person to person; to acquire unsubstantiated information from sources that are not necessarily reliable. 1Troy, Eric. “Why Do We Say ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ – What’s the Origin?” Culinary Lore, 26 July 2018.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,3Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

Usage

Usually expressed in the past tense as “I heard it through the grapevine.”

Examples Of Use

“I heard through the grapevine we’re getting a new assistant.”

“How did you find out about my award?” asked Anna. “I heard it through the grapevine,” said Brook.

“I hear through the grapevine you are thinking of joining the military,” said John “Me, join the military? So much for the grapevine!” said Sam.

Origin

This American idiom dates from the first half of the 1800s and has nothing to do with grapes or grapevines. It comes from a means of communication along the Underground Railroad known as the clothesline telegraph. Grapevines may have been used as a substitute for clotheslines. Different color clothes hung on these lines were used as visual codes, which passed information along the network. See Culinary Lore for a more in-depth explanation of the history of this idiom. 4Troy, Eric. “Why Do We Say ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ – What’s the Origin?” Culinary Lore, 26 July 2018.

More Idioms Starting with H

More Grape Idioms

More Hear/Heard Idioms

More Vine Idioms

Sources   [ + ]

1, 4. Troy, Eric. “Why Do We Say ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ – What’s the Origin?” Culinary Lore, 26 July 2018.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.