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[pawl-ter] /ˈpɔl tər/
verb (used without object)
to talk or act insincerely or deceitfully; lie or use trickery.
to bargain with; haggle.
to act carelessly; trifle.
Origin of palter
1530-40 in sense “to speak indistinctly,” perhaps alteration of falter in same sense, with p- from palsy1
Related forms
palterer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for palter
Historical Examples
  • It is in vain to palter with our conscience: there are not two honours—two honesties.

  • Never for an instant did either of these palter with the other.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • The honour of the school was in question, and he had no right to palter with that.

    The Willoughby Captains Talbot Baines Reed
  • Aziel could no longer palter with himself, it was the truth.

    Elissa H. Rider Haggard
  • It must not, like the witches in Macbeth, "palter in a double sense."

  • She would face the truth and not palter with it, now that the crisis had really come.

    Name and Fame Adeline Sergeant
  • When a man is going on my journey he does not palter with truth.

    Simon the Jester William J. Locke
  • He felt that he could not palter with a woman in the grasp of an agony like this.

    Hand and Ring

    Anna Katharine Green
  • His brain reeled, but he could not doubt it or palter over it for a moment.

  • Why must he "palter in a double sense," and blow hot and cold in one breath?

    Apologia pro Vita Sua John Henry Newman
British Dictionary definitions for palter


verb (intransitive)
to act or talk insincerely
to haggle
Derived Forms
palterer, noun
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for palter

1530s, "speak indistinctly," of unknown origin. It has the form of a frequentative, but no verb palt is known. Connection with paltry is uncertain. Hence "play fast and loose" (c.1600). Related: Paltered; paltering; palterer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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