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payola

[pey-oh-luh]
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noun Informal.
  1. a secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a product, service, etc., through the abuse of one's position, influence, or facilities.
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Origin of payola

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40; pay1 + -ola
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for payola

payola

noun informal, mainly US
  1. a bribe given to secure special treatment, esp to a disc jockey to promote a commercial product
  2. the practice of paying or receiving such bribes
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Word Origin

C20: from pay 1 + -ola, as in Pianola
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

Word Origin and History for payola

n.

"graft" (especially to disc jockeys from record companies to play their music), 1938 (in a "Variety" headline), from pay off "bribery" (underworld slang from 1930) + ending from Victrola, etc. (see pianola). Cf. also plugola (1959), from plug (n.) in the advertising sense.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper