informant (synonym informer): a person who gives secret information about somebody/something to the police or a newspaper


informant: someone who gives information to another person or organization BUT the example is: a police/secret informant


informant: a person who gives information to the police about secret or criminal activities

So, as I read, informant/informer deals with information passed on to some authorities secretly.

The Question

I am not talking of someone who is giving me information secretly or with any bad intention. S/he is just a source of information. S/he is not paid or kept on a job to pass on the information.

I'm looking for a word to describe a person who gave me information about someone/thing but...

S/he's not paid
S/he's not kept for that job exclusively
S/he's does not give me information regularly
S/he's not a professional in passing the information.
S/he doesn't report to anyone.

  • 1
    An informant certainly doesn't have to be a police informant. There are informants in linguistics.
    – DRF
    May 31, 2016 at 6:54
  • 1
    I think you already have the best word: source. You don't seem to want tale-teller or rumor spreader, I think. I wouldn't use informer myself, but informant is probably not off limits. May 31, 2016 at 8:26
  • @DamkerngT. I'm skeptical using 'source' because asking-'What is your source' seems okay, but 'Who is your source'!!!
    – Maulik V
    May 31, 2016 at 12:17
  • @MaulikV You can try searching for the string "source tipped me off". May 31, 2016 at 12:42
  • 1
    @MaulikV "Who is your source?" is perfectly reasonable, especially in the context of journalism. Aug 1, 2016 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


As previously told and verified on OxfDE:

"a person from whom a linguist or anthropologist obtains information about language, dialect or culture."

I think "source" is tailored on what you're saying. J


IMO, tittle-tattler is a word that fits in your search. Wordnik says:

Tittle-tattler: n. One who circulates idle gossip; a trifling tattler.

However, I could not find this word in any other dictionaries. But, tattler word is given here.

Tittle-tattle is a synonym for gossips.

  • 1
    But it has nothing to do with 'gossip'. It's genuine information! Say, your colleague Kate told you that Tina (another colleague) is suffering from typhoid and is hospitalized. Now, Kate is neither an informer/informant nor title-tattle!
    – Maulik V
    Jun 2, 2016 at 6:30

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