1570s, from Gk. parabole "parabola, application" (see parable), so called by Apollonius of Perga c.210 B.C.E. because it is produced by "application" of a given area to a given straight line. It had a different sense in Pythagorean geometry.
Related: Parabolic.


1733 (implied in palavering), "talk, conference, discussion," sailors' slang, from Port. palavra "word, speech, talk," traders' term for "negotiating with the natives" in W.Africa, metathesis of L.L. parabola "speech, discourse," from L. parabola "comparison." Meaning "idle talk" first recorded 1748.

parley (n.)

"conference," especially with an enemy, mid-15c., from M.Fr. parlée, from fem. pp. of O.Fr. parler "to speak," from L.L. parabolare "to speak (in parables)," from parabola "speech, discourse," from L. parabola "comparison" (see parable). The verb is 14c., probably a separate borrowing of O.Fr. parler.


early 14c., "saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else," from O.Fr. parable, from L. parabola "comparison," from Gk. parabole "a comparison, parable," lit. "a throwing beside," from para- "alongside" + bole "a throwing, casting, beam, ray," related to ballein "to throw." Replaced O.E. bispell. In V.L. parabola took on the meaning "word," hence It. parlare, Fr. parler "to speak."


1610s, "word of honor," especially "promise by a prisoner of war not to escape," from Fr. parole "word, speech" (in parole d'honneur "word of honor") from Gallo-Romance *paraula "speech, discourse," from L. parabola (see parable). Sense of "conditional release of a prisoner before full term" is first attested 1908 in criminal slang. The verb (1716) originally was what the prisoner did ("pledge"); its transitive meaning "put on parole" is first attested 1853. Related: Paroled; paroling.