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Originally nautical slang, from Portuguese palavra ‎(word), from Late Latin parabola ‎(parable, speech). The term's use (especially in Africa) mimics the evolution of the word moot. As such, for sense development, see moot.



palaver ‎(plural palavers)

  1. (Africa) A village council meeting, a folkmoot
    • 1799, Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior of Africa[1]:
      Here we remained four days, on account of a palaver which was held on the following occasion.
  2. Talk, especially unnecessary talk, fuss.
    • 1886, Henry James, The Princess Casamassima.
      These remarks were received with a differing demonstration: some of the company declaring that if the Dutchman cared to come round and smoke a pipe they would be glad to see him—perhaps he'd show where the thumbscrews had been put on; others being strongly of the opinion that they didn't want any more advice—they had already had advice enough to turn a donkey's stomach. What they wanted was to put forth their might without any more palaver; to do something, or for some one; to go out somewhere and smash something, on the spot—why not?—that very night.
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, Active Service:
      Knowing full well the right time and the wrong time for a palaver of regret and disavowal, this battalion struggled in the desperation of despair.
    • 1985, Justin Richards, Option Lock, p 229:
      Not for the first time, he reflected that it was not so much the speeches that strained the nerves as the palaver that went with them.
  3. A meeting at which there is much talk; a debate, a moot.
    • Carlyle
      This epoch of parliaments and eloquent palavers.
  4. (informal) Disagreement
    I have no palaver with him.



palaver ‎(third-person singular simple present palavers, present participle palavering, simple past and past participle palavered)

  1. To discuss with much talk.
    • 1860, Atlantic Monthly, vol. 5, no. 30 (April),
      “That,” he rejoined, “is a way we Americans have. We cannot stop to palaver. What would become of our manifest destiny?”




From English palaver.


  • IPA(key): /palavɘr/, [pʰaˈlɒwˀɐ], [pʰaˈlæˀwɐ]


palaver c (singular definite palaveren, plural indefinite palavere)

  1. palaver