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Pronunciation: pahr-lêns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Way of speaking, speech register, professional dialect like legalese, journalese, or medical parlance. 2. Parley, debate, discussion of terms or issues.

Notes: This word is the noun based on the verb parley, even though this verb may be used as a noun in the second sense of parlance. We would expect an adjective, parlant, underlying parlance, but parlant is an archaic word referring to someone who parleys.

In Play: The second sense of parlance is seldom used these days, so, let's stick with the broader meaning: "Henry found that his difficulty in communicating with his grandchildren was his unfamiliarity with the parlance of teenagers." Parlance may be restricted to geographical locations: "In Washington parlance, 'conspiracy theory' refers to any idea that makes people paranoid."

Word History: English came up with today's Good Word on its regular raiding ground, Old French, where it meant simply "speaking" from the verb parler "to speak". Parler is all that was left in French of Late Latin parabolare "to speak, talk, tell", a verb made out of parabola "comparison". This word Latin borrowed from Greek parabole "comparison, parable", comprising para "beside" + bole "throwing, casting", from ballein "to throw". Para comes from PIE per "before, through", source also of Sanskrit pari "around, about", Russian pere- "over, through", English for and fore, and German vor "before". Ballein descended from PIE gwel-/gwol- "to throw, reach", source also of English quell. Greek also had a word for something they loved to throw, ballizein "to dance", upon which Late Latin ballare "to dance" was based, Old French inherited as baller and English modified to ball (the dance). (Thanks now to Albert Skiles, one of our most prolific contributors, for yet another compelling Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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