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. Doublet of parable, parole, and parabola.
- (Africa) A village council meeting.
- (North America, archaic British) Talk, especially unnecessary talk; chatter. [from 18th c.]
- 1886, Henry James, The Princess Casamassima, London: Macmillan and Co.:
- 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.
- (Britain) Mentally-draining activity, either physical or fuss.
- What a palaver!
- 1985, Justin Richards, Option Lock, page 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.
- 1988, Lord Grimond, House of Lords vol 492 col 695 :
- What's the good of going through all this palaver of giving very small sums to very obscure charities?
- 2021 February 22, “Life slows down’: the islander who swapped Shetland for living off-grid in a Norway forest”, in Shetland News:
- We fill up the bathtub for a proper bath maybe once a month because it is such a palaver. We have a 150 litre pot and a 60 litre pot that we have to fill up and boil on the wood stove which takes hours.
- A meeting at which there is much talk; a debate; a moot.
- (informal) Disagreement.
- I have no palaver with him.
- Talk intended to deceive. [from 19th c.]
- (unnecessary talk): hot air, janglery; See also Thesaurus:chatter
- (fuss): ado, bother; See also Thesaurus:commotion
- (intransitive) To discuss with much talk.
- 1860 April, Atlantic Monthly, volume 5, number 30:
- “That,” he rejoined, “is a way we Americans have. We cannot stop to palaver. What would become of our manifest destiny?”
- (transitive) To flatter.
- James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928), “Palaver”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume VII (O–P), London: Clarendon Press, →OCLC, page 390, column 1.