from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Idle chatter.
  • noun Talk intended to charm or beguile.
  • noun A negotiation or discussion concerning matters in dispute, especially in the traditional cultures of West Africa.
  • intransitive verb To talk idly or at length.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To flatter or cajole.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Business; an affair to be settled; affairs.
  • noun A dodge; a contrivance; a plot.
  • noun A long talk; a parley; a conference, such as takes, place between travelers or explorers and suspicious or hostile natives; superfluous or idle talk.
  • noun Parley; conference.
  • noun Flattery; adulation; talk intended to deceive.
  • noun Synonyms and See prattle, n.
  • To talk idly or plausibly; indulge in palaver.
  • To flatter; cajole.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Talk; conversation; esp., idle or beguiling talk; talk intended to deceive; flattery.
  • noun In Africa, a parley with the natives; a talk; hence, a public conference and deliberation; a debate.
  • verb To make palaver with, or to; to used palaver; to talk idly or deceitfully; to employ flattery; to cajole.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Africa A village council meeting.
  • noun Talk, especially unnecessary talk, fuss.
  • noun A meeting at which there is much talk.
  • noun informal Disagreement
  • verb To discuss with much talk.

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

  • verb have a lengthy discussion, usually between people of different backgrounds
  • verb speak (about unimportant matters) rapidly and incessantly
  • verb influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
  • noun flattery intended to persuade
  • noun loud and confused and empty talk


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

[Portuguese palavra, speech, alteration of Late Latin parabola, speech, parable; see parable.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originally nautical slang, from Portuguese palavra ("word"), from Late Latin parabola ("parable, speech")


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  • This reminds me of the Gunslinger

    December 14, 2006

  • Who paid in palaver and crumpled old dollars

    Which we squirreled away

    In our rat-trap hotel by the freeway

    And we slept in Sundays

    August 14, 2007

  • This word was used by Rudyard Kipling to refer to a meeting or gathering. One can see the relationship with its 'current' meaning.

    August 13, 2008

  • The word is from Portuguese palavra "word, speech" (thus cognate with 'parley', 'parable', 'parole', 'parliament' etc.) and probably comes into English via some African pidgin, as early uses all refer to discussions or disputes with or among Africans. Thence it passed in a fairly wide range of different senses relating to speech, dispute, or persuasion.

    August 13, 2008

  • This word has a lot of definitions that don't have anything to do with each other. How would anyone know what you meant by it?

    August 16, 2008

  • Context.

    August 16, 2008

  • This word was chosen as Wordnik word of the day.

    November 11, 2009

  • Very often used with a subaudition of humbug.

    April 19, 2011

  • See dissemblance

    March 3, 2012

  • Two vultures engaged in ghoulish palaver

    On owning an old sow's cadaver.

    Said one, "if you'll trade

    Some brain marmalade

    And a sip of hot bile you can have her."

    February 22, 2014