par·​ol ˈper-əl How to pronounce parol (audio)
parol adjective

Did you know?

Since the 18th century, parol has been pretty much confined to oral contracts and the realm of law. No longer is anyone likely to refer to the "sweet parols" of a paramour, as in one 16th-century work. Parol brings to mind that other legal word, parole. Both words lack any connection with law in their original form. They come from Latin parabola, which means "parable" or "speech." The Latin, in turn, is from Greek parabole, meaning "comparison." The French created two words (which we then borrowed) from parabola: parol, meaning "spoken words," and parole, for "word of honor." Originally, a parole was a prisoner of war's promise to fulfill certain conditions on consideration of his release.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Special Christmas lanterns called 'parols' made of bamboo and paper are hung around towns and villages, with some places even holding contests for the most beautiful Christmas decorations. Ashley Novak, CNN, 25 Dec. 2019

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

Word History


borrowed from Middle French parole "speech, expression in words, word, promise" — more at parole entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of parol was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near parol

Cite this Entry

“Parol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Legal Definition

parol 1 of 2


par·​ol ˈpar-əl How to pronounce parol (audio)
: an oral declaration or statement
where the evidence of the gift rests in parol Matter of Cohn, 176 N.Y.S. 225 (1919) (dissent)


2 of 2


: executed or made by word of mouth or by a writing not under seal
a parol agreement
: given or expressed by word of mouth : oral as distinguished from written
: relating to matters outside of a writing

History and Etymology for parol


Anglo-French, speech, talk, from Old French parole

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