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[pey-oh-luh] /peɪˈoʊ lə/
noun, Informal.
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.
Origin of payola
An Americanism dating back to 1935-40; pay1 + -ola Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for payola


noun (informal, mainly US)
a bribe given to secure special treatment, esp to a disc jockey to promote a commercial product
the practice of paying or receiving such bribes
Word Origin
C20: from pay1 + -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
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Word Origin and History for payola

"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for payola



Graft; extortion money; bribery, esp that paid by recording companies to disc jockeys for playing their records on the radio

[1938+; coined probably fr payoff and the ending of Pianola, trademark of an automatic piano-playing device, or Victrola, trademark of a gramophone]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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