Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To talk or act insincerely or misleadingly; equivocate. See Synonyms at lie2.
  • intransitive v. To be capricious; trifle.
  • intransitive v. To quibble, especially in bargaining.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To talk insincerely; to prevaricate or equivocate in speech or actions.
  • v. To trifle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To haggle.
  • intransitive v. To act in insincere or deceitful manner; to play false; to equivocate; to shift; to dodge; to trifle.
  • intransitive v. To babble; to chatter.
  • transitive v. To trifle with; to waste; to squander in paltry ways or on worthless things.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To talk in a trifling manner; babble.
  • To talk insincerely; equivocate; trifle; shift; use trickery.
  • To trifle away; use or spend in a paltry manner; squander.
  • To fashion by trickery; patch up.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or withhold information

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Probably from *palter ("rag, trifle, worthless thing"), from Middle Low German palter ("rag, cloth"). More at paltry. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And I would warn you, sir, that if you palter with the truth in such little matters you may darken your more important statements with suspicion.

    The Benefit of the Doubt

  • “But,” continued the baron anxiously, “what hope that this juggling slave of Saladin will not palter with your Grace?”

    The Talisman

  • By Rosh Hashanah some have the tradition to be stringent and try to eat only pas yisroel by that specific chag, but the halachah is clear, pas palter bread of the baker is kosher.

    Actually, Not Sure What’s For Dinner | Jewschool

  • The Shach seems to say on 115:20 that it is not like chalav akum, but rather, like pas akum the bread of the individual non-Jew, made at his or her house, NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH WHAT I MENTIONED BEFORE, which was pas palter, bread of the baker.

    Actually, Not Sure What’s For Dinner | Jewschool

  • They need not palter with the stale and timid compromise and convention called Birth-Control.

    Vintage Distributism

  • Yet he was himself a very stern respecter of the hedgerows; sought safety and found dignity in the obvious path of conduct; and would palter with no simple and recognised duty of his epoch.

    Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin

  • “How, or what do you mean?” said Nigel; “I will break your head, you drunken knave, if you palter with me any longer.”

    The Fortunes of Nigel

  • Do not think that you should palter with the truth either because it may not be palatable to me, or seem decorous to yourself.

    Ayala's Angel

  • He smoked while the walker extolled his cloths, slipping his head between the rails of ready-mades and his palter inside his patter.

    At Swim, Two Boys

  • When at O'Brien's flat Winston refers to the words of the prophecy, O'Brien behaves 'as though he had recognised the allusion' (p. 185) - the prophecy being a typical example of the way, as Macbeth complains, 'these juggling fiends ... palter with us in a double sense'.

    The Hell of Nineteen Eighty-Four

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