palter

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably from Middle English *palter (rag, trifle, worthless thing), from Middle Low German palter (rag, cloth). More at paltry.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɔːltə(ɹ)/, /ˈpɒltə(ɹ)/
  • (file)

Verb[edit]

palter (third-person singular simple present palters, present participle paltering, simple past and past participle paltered)

  1. To talk insincerely; to prevaricate or equivocate in speech or actions.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene i]:
      Romans, that have spoke the word,
      And will not palter.
    • 1852, Alfred Tennyson, Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 897483676:
      Who never sold the truth to serve the hour,
      Nor paltered with eternal God for power.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “2/4/1”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days[1]:
      But, with a gesture, she put a period to this dalliance—one shouldn't palter so on an empty stomach, she might almost have said.
    • 2010, Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles
      I would prevaricate and palter in my usual plausible way, but, this being Cambridge, such stratagems would cut no ice with my remorseless and (in my imagination) gleefully malicious interrogator, who would stare at me with gimlet eyes and say in a harsh voice that crackled with mocking laughter: ‘Excuse me, but do you even know who Lermontov is?’
  2. (now rare) To trifle.
    • 1625, John Fletcher; Philip Massinger, “The Elder Brother. A Comedy.”, in Comedies and Tragedies [], London: [] Humphrey Robinson, [], and for Humphrey Moseley [], published 1679, OCLC 3083972, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      Palter out your time in the penal statutes.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 36, in The History of Pendennis. [], volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], OCLC 2057953:
      Behold this man, stored with genius, wit, learning, and a hundred good natural gifts: see how he has wrecked them, by paltering with his honesty, and forgetting to respect himself.
    • 1886, Henry James, The Princess Casamassima
      He waited and waited, in the faith that Schinkel was dealing with them in his slow, categorical Teutonic way, and only objurgated the cabinetmaker for having in the first place paltered with his sacred trust. Why hadn't he come straight to him—whatever the mysterious document was—instead of talking it over with French featherheads?
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room, Vintage Classics, paperback edition, page 100
      Don't palter with the second rate.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, Sydney: Ure Smith, published 1962, page 86:
      So enfeebled was resolution in him that he could only palter at a fatuous picture of himself carrying Podson bodily over the lagoon and dumping him on the sand dunes.
  3. To haggle.
    • 1611, Cotgrave, A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, p. 738.
      Herceler. Voyez to haggle, to dodge. N.b. Cotgrave defines herceler/harceler by example: "to haggle, hucke, hedge, or paulter long in the buying of commodity".
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
      That palter with us in a double sense;
      That keep the word of promise to our ear,
      And break it to our hope.
  4. To babble; to chatter.

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