[puh-lav-er, ‐lah-ver]


verb (used without object), pa·lav·ered, pa·lav·er·ing.

to talk profusely and idly.
to parley or confer.

verb (used with object), pa·lav·ered, pa·lav·er·ing.

to cajole or persuade.

Origin of palaver

1720–30; < Portuguese palavra word, speech, talk < Late Latin parabola parable
Related formspa·lav·er·er, pa·lav·er·ist, nounpa·lav·er·ment, nounpa·lav·er·ous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for palaver

Contemporary Examples of palaver

Historical Examples of palaver

  • The minute they started their drillin' an' palaver, they ought to 'a' been stopped.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Meantime the palaver inside Jim's house went on in the presence of the girl.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • Oh, for pity's sake, woman, let me through without any palaver!

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther

  • I'll palaver to 'em, and tell 'em we just come to pay 'em a visit.

  • So the governor is coming down here to have a palaver with us.'

    Tom Gerrard

    Louis Becke

British Dictionary definitions for palaver



tedious or time-consuming business, esp when of a formal natureall the palaver of filling in forms
loud and confused talk and activity; hubbub
(often used humorously) a conference
rare talk intended to flatter or persuade
Western African
  1. an argument
  2. trouble arising from an argument


(intr) (often used humorously) to have a conference
(intr) to talk loudly and confusedly
(tr) to flatter or cajole

Word Origin for palaver

C18: from Portuguese palavra talk, from Latin parabola parable
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 palaver

1733 (implied in palavering), "talk, conference, discussion," sailors' slang, from Portuguese palavra "word, speech, talk," traders' term for "negotiating with the natives" in West Africa, metathesis of Late Latin parabola "speech, discourse," from Latin parabola "comparison" (see parable). Meaning "idle talk" first recorded 1748. The verb is 1733, from the noun. Related: Palavering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper