pa·​lav·​er | \ pə-ˈla-vər How to pronounce palaver (audio) , -ˈlä- How to pronounce palaver (audio) \

Definition of palaver

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a long parley usually between persons of different cultures or levels of sophistication a palaver between foreign ministers
b : conference, discussion a palaver between union leaders
2a : idle talk Cut the palaver and get down to business.
b : misleading or beguiling speech Don't get taken in by the candidate's palaver.


palavered; palavering\ pə-​ˈla-​və-​riŋ How to pronounce palaver (audio) , -​ˈlä-​ ; -​ˈlav-​riŋ , -​ˈläv-​ \

Definition of palaver (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to talk profusely or idly
2 : parley

transitive verb

: to use palaver to : cajole

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?


During the 18th century, Portuguese and English sailors often met during trading trips along the West African coast. This contact prompted the English to borrow the Portuguese palavra, which usually means "speech" or "word" but was used by Portuguese traders with the specific meaning "discussions with natives." The Portuguese word traces back to the Late Latin parabola, a noun meaning "speech" or "parable," which in turn comes from the Greek parabolē, meaning "juxtaposition" or "comparison."

Examples of palaver in a Sentence

Noun Enough of this palaver. We have a lot to discuss. seemingly endless palaver between the negotiating parties Verb mothers palavering and drinking coffee while watching their children play I let the salesclerk at the electronics store palaver me into a service contract that I didn't need.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And up from under the palaver there is golden food. John Ashbery, The New York Review of Books, "From The History of Photography (1993)," 27 Apr. 2021 That the palaver was enough to promptly warrant Congressional hearings is testament to just how removed the investing public is from today’s market mechanics. Roya Wolverson, Quartz, "How Ken Griffin’s Citadel transformed financial markets," 18 Feb. 2021 Then the palaver over the meeting blew up in early April. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, National Review, "An Encounter Sabotaged," 17 Nov. 2020 This is why the U.K. has suffered through four years of palaver about various Brexit deals, many of which wouldn’t have meant Brexit in any material sense. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "If You Lose an Election, You Probably Deserve It," 24 Sep. 2020 Too often the book gets bogged down in the same kind of narcissistic palaver Daum derides. Rosa Brooks, Washington Post, "Meghan Daum’s merciless take on modern feminism, woke-ness and cancel culture," 24 Oct. 2019 In addition to funding the pen-pen drivers’ palaver hut — a sort-of community gathering area — Mr. Cooper also gave them 2000 Liberian dollars (the equivalent of around $20) last month, the young men said. Helene Cooper, New York Times, "Cash, T-Shirts and Gallons of Booze: How Liberian Candidates Woo Voters," 8 Oct. 2017 In 1962, French director and film critic François Truffaut requested palaver with the one and only Alfred Hitchcock. Matt Patches, Esquire, "Scorsese and Fincher Talking Hitchcock/Truffaut Will Change the Way You Watch Movies," 13 Sep. 2015 More partisan palaver, far from courageous, far from laudable. Logan Jenkins,, "A knock on wood for O'side mayor; a razz to Issa for timid response," 18 Aug. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On the one hand, Hrabal’s palavering bears a direct relation to reality. Becca Rothfeld, The New Yorker, "The Violent Insights of Bohumil Hrabal," 19 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'palaver.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of palaver


1735, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1713, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for palaver

Noun and Verb

Portuguese palavra word, speech, from Late Latin parabola parable, speech

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about palaver

Time Traveler for palaver

Time Traveler

The first known use of palaver was in 1713

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about palaver

Statistics for palaver

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Palaver.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for palaver



English Language Learners Definition of palaver

chiefly US : talk that is not important or meaningful
chiefly British : excitement and activity caused by something that is not important

More from Merriam-Webster on palaver

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for palaver

Nglish: Translation of palaver for Spanish Speakers

Comments on palaver

What made you want to look up palaver? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!