[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 palavering

Historical Examples of palavering

  • Do you think we don't see through you and your palavering speeches?

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • Drouet was palavering himself with the looseness of excitement and passion.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • He shines in action, and he'll find that out, and leave others the palavering.'

  • It took a great deal of palavering before I could persuade him that I was lost unless he consented.

  • The next day he lounges in here with his palavering ways, and demands the highest price in the market—and I give it to him!

    The Ancient Law

    Ellen Glasgow

British Dictionary definitions for palavering



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 palavering



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