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From Middle English parlai (speech, parley), from Old French parler (to talk; to speak), from Late Latin parabolō, from Latin parabola (comparison), from Ancient Greek παραβολή (parabolḗ), from παρά (pará, beside) with βολή (bolḗ, throwing). Doublet of palaver.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɑɹli/, /ˈpɑːleɪ/
  • (file)
  • (some non-rhotic accents) IPA(key): /ˈpɑːlɪ/


parley (countable and uncountable, plural parleys)

  1. A conference, especially one between enemies.

Usage notes[edit]

Not to be confused with parlay (bet or series of bets where the stake and winnings are cumulatively carried forward).



parley (third-person singular simple present parleys, present participle parleying, simple past and past participle parleyed)

  1. (intransitive) To have a discussion, especially one between enemies.
    • 1638 Herbert, Sir Thomas Some years travels into divers parts of Asia and Afrique
      [...] at day break we found the villaine, who, loath to parlee in fire and ſhot, fled amaine and left us [...]
    • 1852 March – 1853 September, Charles Dickens, “Springing a Mine”, in Bleak House, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1853, OCLC 999756093, page 527:
      "That is droll. Listen yet one time. You are very spiritual. Can you make a honorable lady of Her?" / "Don't be so malicious," says Mr. Bucket. / "Or a haughty gentleman of Him?" cries Madamoiselle, referring to Sir Leicester with ineffable disdain. "Eh! O then regard him! The poor infant! Ha! ha! ha!" / "Come, come, why this is worse Parlaying than the other," says Mr. Bucket. "Come along!"
    • 1865, Robert Hunt, compiler and editor, “Tom the Giant—His Wife Jane, and Jack the Tinkeard, as Told by the ‘Drolls’”, in Popular Romances of the West of England; or, The Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of Old Cornwall (First Series), London: John Camden Hotten, [], OCLC 987020295, page 45:
      Jack "parlayed" with them until he had completed his task, and then he closed the gate in their faces.

Usage notes[edit]

Not to be confused with parlay (to carry forward the stake and winnings from a bet on to a subsequent wager or series of wagers; to increase (an asset, money, etc.) by gambling or investing in a daring manner; to convert (a situation, thing, etc.) into something better).

Alternative forms[edit]


See also[edit]