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The Parliamentary Glossary

If you're new to debate, it's worth knowing that it, like any other activity (ie. art, sports) is filled with particular terminology to describe specific occurrences.


Parliamentary debate, like other forms, is filled with jargon. While it is generally best to speak without too much technical lingo, this resource can help give a clear definition for some of the most important terms and help out if you're unsure what a new word means. It also just includes some helpful vocab for parli debaters to think about.

Trying to find a word? They're alphabetized, but you can always command + F to find a particular term.


For more info on the particulars of parli, check out our online courses.



When a team uses a particular method to gain an advantage over the other team, such as a definition

Responses to abuse include: topicalities, trichotomies, theory, or other likewise arguments

Attitudinal Inherency

An explanation of why the attitudes of the people, a body, etc. have prevented the plan from existing in the status quo; run in policy case types

Note: typically only found in stock issues rounds, implied in other styles.


An argument run alongside a plan or counter-plan explaining the unique benefits of implementing a policy or of solving a harm. These exist exclusively in the policy case type

Agent Counterplan

A particular type of counterplan which does the same thing as the gov plan, but changes the body implementing it. Ex: instead of the USFG raising taxes, the government of Utah will


The team which proposes to pass the resolution or motion (argues for the resolution.) Also knowns as: government, proposition

Author's Intent

The manner in which the author intended the resolution to be debated; standard used for running a topicality



Surrounding information a team may present to contextualize their arguments or inform the judge upon more obscure matters; not considered an actual argument, but may explain/strengthen a particular stance


The action of advancing to an out-round due to performance in preliminary rounds.

(ex. "My partner and I broke to the semifinal round.")



Refers to the entirety of a team's arguments, definitions, etc. on the flow; two exist in each round: the off-case and on-case

Case Shift

A breach of the rules in which a team goes back on a previous stance or position

Note: This goes past a simple correction of an error. Case shifts are to avoid miscalculations or arguments made after the introduction of the case


A sentence stating an argument; the first part of Toulmin's Model. Found in contentions, counter-contentions, harms, advantages, disadvantages, etc.


The action of strategically dropping or conceding points of the debate in order to focus on the most important arguments or to hone a position

Note: Collapsing is highly stylistic. Many judges may not buy collapsing or see it as a case shift

Common Usage

The typical manner in which a word or phrase is used; standard used when running a topicality


An argument supporting/against the resolution or motion. Typically found only in fact/value cases in stock issues. May be structured in Toulmin's Model

Contentions compose the majority of the argumentation made on the flow for both gov and opp


The first four speeches in a parli debate in which new information is permitted; the PMC, LOC, MGC, and MOC


A contention brought up by the opposition team against the resolution


An alternative definition to one presented by the government team; often used when running topicalities, trichotomies, or theory

Note: Counter-definitions need not be for only definitions, but also weighing mechanisms, values, voting criteria, etc.


An alternative to the government team's plan brought up by the opposition team; occurs only in policy debates. The opposition team does not defend the status quo, but proposes a solution unique from the resolution and the gov plan and argues that it creates more benefits.


Standards brought up by the government team to justify their contested definition; often used in response to a topicality, tricademy, or theory

Note: counter-standards are highly stylistic and may not always be introduced.



Evidence, logic, reasoning, or statistics to back up a claim; the second portion of Toulmin's model

Delink from Solvency

To demonstrate that a plan does not fix the harm in a policy case; to destroy solvency


The action of halting or not responding to a line of argumentation. Typically, silence is compliance in debate, meaning that dropping an argument is, in theory, agreeing with it.



The allocation (of resources, etc.) in accordance to need to bring about justice; a common weighing mechanism used in a policy case type; a potential value for value case types

Existential Impact

An impact which theoretically has infinite magnitude due its potential to completely wipe out humanity, (ex. a large asteroid hitting Earth); typically used during impact calc



One of three case types, in which teams must try to adopt or reject the resolution as 'fact' using a weighing mechanism, contentions, and counter-contentions


Impartiality or justice in regards to a particular topic; a common standard when running topicalities; a potential value in a value case type.


A method by which the gov sets the parameters for the debate, potentially containing an observation/background, definitions, weighing apparatuses, etc; an alternative to the top-of-case.



The team arguing for the passage of the resolution (arguing that the resolution is true); also known as affirmation or proposition.


The viable or reasonable arguments in existence for the gov or opp to bring up in their cases; often used as a standard for topicalities.

Note: A team can have more grounds than those they actually bring up. Grounds is just a term to describe the justification each team has for their position.



Arguments on the gov case describing the problems which exist in the status quo; may be structured in Toulmin's Model; brought up in policy case types.

Note: Explicit harms are brought up in stock issues, but other styles have implicit harms embedded in advantages or contentions.



An effect or result of something; brought up in policy case types.

Impacts can be negative or positive. Impact calc is designed to compare the importance of impacts.

Impact Calculus

A tool used to compare the impacts existent on both sides by analyzing them in the context of various lenses, the most common being probability, magnitude, timeframe, and reversibility; exists almost exclusively in policy case types; sometimes abbreviated to 'impact calc'


An explanation of the barriers preventing the plan from existing in the status quo (how the plan is different from what is happening right now); run in policy case types.

Note: in stock issues, there are two inherencies: structural and attitudinal. Other styles imply inherencies. 


The definition or framing provided by the government team; a term to reference the original definition when arguing abuse.



The person assigned to determine the winner of a debate between the gov and the opp, often with a specific judging paradigm.

Judging Paradigm

A specific set of guidelines or statements indicating a judge's preferences (what they would like to hear) throughout the debate.

They often include details such as opinions on offtime roadmaps, theory, impact calculus, or what is necessary for a team to win. They may also indicate the experience level of a judge.



To get rid of arguments brought up in a previous speech in order to hone in on the most important points; see collapse


Lay Judge

A judge inexperienced at parliamentary debate



The significance or seriousness of the impact; the great size or extent of something; typically used in impact calculus


A statement that the government team meets the standards brought up by the opposition team, typically in the case of theory arguments; may be used in the phrase, "We meet (standard) because..."



The team which opposes the resolution; also known as the opposition, opp, con, or neg

Net Benefits

The maximum amount of benefits for the most people; A common value or weighing mechanism in value or policy rounds; similar to utilitarianism


The statement that impacts will exist regardless of the world (both gov and opp), ex. regardless or not whether I wear my shirt, it will still be purple



An overall explanation of the lens through which a case can be seen, for purposes of context and argumentation, without acting as an actual framework; can be run on the gov or opp


The entirety of the opposition team's case


The entirety of the government team's case


The team negating or rejecting the resolution; also known as negation, neg, opp, con


To demonstrate that your own impacts are more important or significant than your opponents, sometimes done with impact calculus; mostly in policy case types



The right of the government team to decide the scoping or grounds in the debate, whether to shrink or expand the framing

Permutation ("Perm")

A stance in which the gov argues for the passage of both the gov plan and the opp counterplan; only applicable during a policy case type in which a CP was run


The specific policy the gov proposes to solve the harms presented in the status quo, overcoming any inherent barriers and adhering to the resolution (topical); run in policy case types; opp may choose to run alternative plans (see counterplan)

Point of Clarification

A formal interruption raised in an opponent's constructive speech asking them to clear up or repeat something; for POCs, the timer stops and should only be used to clarify the round, not for argumentation

Point of Information

A formal interruption raised in an opponent's constructive speech phrased as a short question in order to expose a flaw in their case; the time does not stop for neither the question nor the answer

Point of Order

A formal interruption raised in an opponent's rebuttal speech claiming they have introduced new information and have therefore broken the rules; the debater raising the POO points out what they believe is new, the opponent explains why it is not, and the judge either makes a ruling then or factors it in later

Point of Personal Privilege

A formal interruption accusing your opponents of having personally offended you or your community (ex. particular race); extremely rare


The practical approach to problems of affairs; a common weighing mechanism in a policy round

Prep Time

The twenty-minute period of research and case construction before the first speech of the round


The notion that the judge should default their vote to the opposition team, as the team defending the status quo. Since 'change' requires inherent effort, the gov must demonstrate unequivocally that there is a 'need' to pass the resolution. If not, then the status quo wins, meaning the opp emerges victorious.

In a policy case type specifically, there is always inherent risk in making a change–actions have unexpected, potentially negative, consequences. If the gov cannot prove that the proposed plan has at least more positive impacts than negative, then opp wins, since there is no reason to change the status quo if there is no net good coming out of it.

Sometimes presumption is described as 'winning by only fifty percent,' meaning that if it is unclear, the opp wins; the opposite is the gov's burden of proof, 'winning by fifty percent'

The recognition of presumption may be considered stylistic in some circles; see 'presumption judges'

Presumption Judge

Judges who recognize and take into account presumption into their judging paradigm


The likelihood that an impact will occur, typically used in impact calculus


Another name for the government or affirmative team; supports the resolution; often abbreviated 'pro'




The final two speeches of the debate: the LOR (4 min) and the PMR (5 min); no new arguments are allowed


The motion or statement up for debate, which the gov tries to pass and the opp rejects


The use of your opponent's voter issues to demonstrate that, because of their abusive impact on the debate, should actually be used to support your own side (ex. if an opp voter issue is a topicality, the gov could bring this up as a reverse voter issue because it was a time-suck and limited the actual arguments made)


The potential for an impact to be undone, even after it has taken effect; often used in impact calculus


A brief statement (on or off time) detailing the structure or order of a speech, not used for argumentation



The ability of a plan to solve or fix the harms presented in a policy case type and to overcome the inherent barriers; often divided into feasibility and desirability

Speaker Points

Individual scores, from 24-30, given by the judge to each debater individually to describe their particular skill as speakers; sometimes used to give awards or break ties in tournaments


Particular criteria for explaining why something is abusive, typically used when running topicalities

Status Quo

The current state of affairs or the 'way things are'; ex. "In the status quo, the federal minimum wage for the United States is $7.25."

Opp defends the status quo and thus gains presumption, while gov must argue for a change in the status quo


A procedure in tournaments for choosing resolutions in which the gov and opp each 'strike' or eliminate one resolution until the remaining is debated

Structural Inherency

The legal barrier presenting the plan from existing in the status quo; run in policy case types on the gov


This House (TH)

The entity, body, or group concerned in the resolution, as defined by the gov


The period in which an impact will take effect; often used in impact calculus


When the plan will be implemented; an agent for a plan in a policy round

Time-Suck Topicality

A topicality introduced for the almost exclusive reason of forcing the government team to 'suck' their speaking time responding to it; typically an unwarranted or unimportant argument of abuse


A formal argument run by the opposition team stating that a government team's definition or scoping is abusive and limits the debatability of the round, and to propose an alternative; run in the format of interpretation, violation, counter-definition, and standards; topicalities run on case type are sometimes known as a tricademy

Toulmin's Model

The structure employed for contentions, counter-contentions, harms, advantages, and disadvantages for stock-issues cases; the components are claim, data, warrant for fact/value case types and claim, data, impact for policy


An argument run by the opp stating that the gov's selection of a particular case type was abusive; sometimes substituted for a topicality

Trojan Horse Counterplan

A counterplan strategically written to be faulty or problematic in the hopes that the government team perms it, allowing opp to run disadvantages on the CP



An abbreviation for the United States Federal Government typically seen in resolutions



Part of a topicality structure explaining why the gov's definition is abusive


Specific reasons why the judge should vote for a team, typically the main focus of the rebuttal speeches; voters may be specific arguments or other a-priori issues (ex topicalities); also called voter issues

Voting Criteria

The particular group of people for which the benefits and detriments are weighed in a policy case type, typically phrased as "net benefits for ____"



An explanation of the claim's significance or importance in the round and it's connection to the weighing mechanism or voting criteria; the third part of Toulmin's Model

We Meet

A particular phrasing employed by the gov to describe why they fulfill the standards of a topicality




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