Definition of palaver in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Prolonged and tedious fuss or discussion:

    ‘mucking around with finances and all that palaver’
    • ‘I'm just trying to say that food can be normal and not actually a huge great palaver.’
    • ‘At first it seems like an awful lot of palaver, but actually the crepe maker is rather a good idea because you can't get them thin enough in an ordinary frying pan.’
    • ‘Hence its 80 years of more or less continual crisis, in which the current palaver is a relatively minor squall.’
    • ‘Some parts of the world remain satisfyingly oblivious to all this palaver, however, as this true tale from a Scottish hostelry so splendidly proves.’
    • ‘Now the interesting part of this whole palaver comes when you have a couple of people both using the system.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 administration may be doing the press a small favor by snubbing it, freeing reporters to abandon their scripted palaver and dig elsewhere for stories.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We thought hayracks were more in keeping than hanging baskets - we can't believe all the fuss and palaver.’
    • ‘I don't know why I should feel the need to go through all this palaver.’
    • ‘All that travelling abroad and wedding palaver were just desperate, elaborate stunts to get new stories!’
    • ‘There's some big issues to consider with all this marriage palaver.’
    • ‘From the rainforests of Tasmania to the dunes of the Sahara, they swapped the pains and palaver of the 21st century for the pleasures of a purer planet.’
    • ‘There was plenty of other sorts of entries before this recent palaver.’
    • ‘Since I've started the whole palaver, I may as well carry it forward.’
    • ‘There was no introductory palaver, he went on stage and went straight into the music and song.’
    • ‘Jo also sent me running for the dictionary when, after observing a particularly chaotic family row, she turned to the camera and exclaimed, ‘What a palaver!’’
    • ‘We found a bar and had a couple of drinks and, after some palaver, managed to order some food, and we chatted about all sorts of stuff.’
    • ‘Tons of people enjoy lurid palaver on an astonishingly wide variety of topics, and your specific frame of reference is not a bit rare.’
    • ‘He'll be stuck in the books and therefore we might be spared the endless palaver about his every move.’
    fuss, fuss and bother, bother, commotion, trouble, rigmarole, folderol, ado
    song and dance, performance, to-do, carry-on, carrying-on, kerfuffle, hoo-ha, hullabaloo, ballyhoo, business, pantomime, hoopla
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun] (in Africa) a parley or improvised conference between two sides.
      • ‘It was quiet all around the pot-bellied stove when Jesse, the elder, finished his palaver.’
      • ‘Palaver is possible within the traditional worldview and life style called Ubuntu [humanness].’
      • ‘Why not some panchayat, a round table under the overseer moon, or a palaver by the banyan tree?’
      • ‘After a long night in our desolate camp, Jon and I have a palaver with Karchung.’
      negotiation, meeting, conference, summit, discussion, dialogue, conclave, consultation, deliberation, colloquy
      View synonyms


[NO OBJECT]informal
  • Talk unnecessarily and at length:

    ‘it's too hot for palavering’
    • ‘To fill up the days, he palavered with neighbors and sold liquor and medical supplies.’
    • ‘Not wishing to waste the morning palavering about nothing, I waved.’
    • ‘After exiting the rear of the cave, we sat palavering between precipices of glacial ice and a slope of rock and snow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But for this bloated series he endlessly ‘palavers,’ as his characters do, and his anything-goes weirdness lacks real-world relevance or resonance.’
    chatter, gossip, prattle, prate, babble, blather, blether, blither, maunder, gabble, jabber, tittle-tattle
    chit-chat, jaw, gas, gab, yak, yackety-yak, yabber, yatter
    natter, rabbit, witter, chunter, waffle, chinwag
    twaddle, clack
    View synonyms


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