Definition of Polari in English:


(also Palari, Palare)


  • [mass noun] A form of theatrical slang incorporating Italianate words, rhyming slang, and Romany, used especially by homosexuals.

    • ‘Although similar languages have precedents - eg Lingua Franca, Polari - it wouldn't surprise me if Fo had coined the term ‘Grammelot’.’
    • ‘But stick with it and count your blessings: she could have performed her investigative journalism in Polari.’
    • ‘I was first introduced to the gay slang language of Polari (sometimes spelt Palare) by listening to Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne in the sixties as a child.’
    • ‘It is variously called Palare, Palyaree, Palary or Polari from its own word for ‘talk’ or ‘speech’.’
    • ‘Unlike Polari, a large proportion of Gayle is based around ascribing different meanings to women's names.’


Mid 19th century: from Italian parlare to speak.