Parley and Parlay

By Maeve Maddox

Suzanne Raymer has suggested a post on parley versus parlay.

Both words may be used as either noun or verb.

As a noun, parley can mean “speech” or “conversation.” Its most common use is to mean speech between opposing sides, a conference with an enemy to discuss terms. As a verb it means “to discuss terms,” or “hold discussion with.”

Parlay is a betting term. As a noun, it means “a cumulative series of bets.” The winnings of subsequent bets are bet again. As the bettor continues to win, the gains continue to increase. As a verb, parlay means “to use the winnings from a previous bet to make another bet.”

Parley [pär’lē] is from French parler, “to speak.”

Parlay [pär’lā’] comes from French parole which comes from Italian parole, “words, promises.” Parlay entered English in 1701 as a term in the card game faro. The gambling term took on the meaning “to exploit to advantage” in 1942.

Uses of parlay:

David Lusterman parlayed a $10000 investment into a company with $1.2 million in revenues

Witness Bill Blount parlayed political skills into a mega-dollar business

She parlayed a $350 investment into a multi-million dollar business…

Uses of parley:

Governors seek fresh parley with teachers

German politicians plan June parley with Hamas minister

For the moment they are parleying with the king’s brother-in-law

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3 Responses to “Parley and Parlay”

  • Bryan

    That’s really informative. Thanks!

  • Blutea21

    Thinking about Pirates of the Carribean – I’m wondering how parlay came to mean “temporary protection” (when it comes to the pirate code). Time for me to do some research!

    A very interesting post!

  • Tyler

    In pirates of the Caribbean the use of parley reserved te right to peaceful terms to negotiate with the captain, thus the sense of protection till those who used parley had met with the captain

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