Etymology
Advertisement

palaver (n.)

1733 (implied in palavering), "a long talk, a conference, a tedious discussion," sailors' slang, from Portuguese palavra "word, speech, talk," from a metathesis of Late Latin parabola "speech, discourse," from Latin parabola "comparison" (see parable). A doublet of parole.

In West Africa the Portuguese word became a traders' term for "negotiating with the natives," and apparently English picked up the word there. (The Spanish cognate, palabra, appears 16c.-17c. in Spanish phrases used in English.) The meaning "idle profuse talk" is recorded by 1748. The verb, "indulge in palaver," is by 1733, from the noun. Related: Palavering.

updated on December 16, 2019

Advertisement