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the bush telegraph
Word of mouth; the grapevine. Don't expect that to stay a secret in this office—the bush telegraph is swift around here.
the bush telegraphBRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
The bush telegraph is the way in which information or news is passed from person to person in conversation. No, you didn't tell me, but I heard it on the bush telegraph. Jean-Michel had heard of our impending arrival in Conflans long before we got there. The bush telegraph on the waterways is extremely effective. Note: This expression refers to a primitive method of communication where people scattered over a wide area beat drums to send messages to one another.
bush telegrapha rapid informal spreading of information or rumour; the network through which this takes place.
This expression originated in the late 19th century, referring to the network of informers who kept bushrangers informed about the movements of the police in the Australian bush or outback. Compare with hear something on the grapevine (at grapevine).