[puh-lav-er, ‐lah-ver]
See more synonyms for palaver on
  1. a conference or discussion.
  2. a long parley, especially one between primitive natives and European traders, explorers, colonial officials, etc.
  3. profuse and idle talk; chatter.
  4. persuasive talk; flattery; cajolery.
verb (used without object), pa·lav·ered, pa·lav·er·ing.
  1. to talk profusely and idly.
  2. to parley or confer.
verb (used with object), pa·lav·ered, pa·lav·er·ing.
  1. 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. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for palaverous


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



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