See more synonyms for payola on
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.

Origin of payola

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

Related Words for payola

graft, payoff, bribery

British Dictionary definitions for 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

Word Origin for payola

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

"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