Definition of palaver in English:

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Pronunciation: /pəˈlavər/
Pronunciation: /pəˈlävər/


1Prolonged and idle discussion: an hour of aimless palaver
More example sentences
  • He said: ‘We thought hayracks were more in keeping than hanging baskets - we can't believe all the fuss and palaver.
  • That's what I'm coming up to Edinburgh to talk about this month: about the book and, presumably, its attendant fuss and palaver.
  • The author of this nauseating palaver is obviously so in love with what he thinks is his own eloquent rhetoric that he fails to notice his laughable double entendre.
1.1 dated A parley or improvised conference between two sides.
Example sentences
  • After a long night in our desolate camp, Jon and I have a palaver with Karchung.
  • Why not some panchayat, a round table under the overseer moon, or a palaver by the banyan tree?
  • It was quiet all around the pot-bellied stove when Jesse, the elder, finished his palaver.


[no object]
Talk unnecessarily at length: it’s too hot for palavering
More example sentences
  • The amiable but essentially conservative bipartisanship that had the notables of each incoming administration palavering happily in her dining room hadn't yet numbed the Post's spinal nerve.
  • After exiting the rear of the cave, we sat palavering between precipices of glacial ice and a slope of rock and snow.
  • To fill up the days, he palavered with neighbors and sold liquor and medical supplies.


Mid 18th century (in the sense 'a talk between tribespeople and traders'): from Portuguese palavra 'word', from Latin parabola 'comparison' (see parable).

  • When early Portuguese traders in West Africa had disputes or misunderstandings with the locals they used the Portuguese word palavra, literally ‘word, speech’, to mean ‘a talk between local people and traders’. The Africans picked up the term from them, and in time passed it on to English sailors. In English palaver first meant a prolonged and tedious discussion, then in the late 19th century a fuss, commotion, or rigmarole. The Portuguese palavra developed from Latin parabolaparable’.

Words that rhyme with palaver

balaclava, Bratislava, carver, cassava, Costa Brava, guava, Java, kava, larva, lava

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pa·lav·er

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