abstain: Refrain from voting.
ad hoc: Formed for a temporary need (e.g., ad hoc committee).
adjourn: End a meeting.
adjourned meeting: A continuation of a meeting that was adjourned until a future time but is being held before the next regular session.
adopt: To accept a motion and put it into effect.
agenda: Specific list of items that will be considered/acted upon at a meeting. Also called order of business.
amend: Change or modify a motion.
amendment: Proposed alteration or change to a motion.
annual meeting: Yearly meeting of stockholders or members of a group or organization. Includes election of officers and directors.
appeal: Question or disagree with the chair's decision.
assembly: Group of people who have organized and gathered together to conduct business.
audio conference: Telephone conference.
aye: A “yes” vote is sometimes referred to in discussion as an “aye” vote.
ballot: Piece of paper used to cast a vote.
board: Body of officials with advisory or managerial authority that sets policy for an organization. It's considered to be a form of an assembly.
business: Matters or items brought before the meeting for action.
bylaws: The “master document” of rules for governing a group or organization.
call for the orders of the day: A motion to alert the chair that an item of business is to be brought up at a specific meeting at a specific time.
call to order: The chair's opening to a meeting. Also, the chair's instruction to a member who is disruptive in some way.
chair: The presiding officer of the group or organization, usually the president but it may be any officer the president so designates.
committee: Group of members who are elected or appointed by organization to study or handle a task. A committee is not an assembly like a board.
committee of the whole: The entire group functions as a committee to consider a matter.
constitution: Document that states the basic principles and rules of a group or organization.
convene: Direction to the group to assemble (come to order to start a meeting).
convention: Meeting of members assembled for a common, specific purpose.
credentials committee: Group of members who are elected or appointed who verify a member's ability to vote.
debate: Discussion of a motion prior to a vote.
delegate: Member who represents other members at a meeting (usually a conference or convention).
dilatory: Statement, motion, or action that's designed to obstruct or delay a meeting.
division of the assembly: Retaking a vote by voice or show of hands when the count has been questioned.
division of a motion: Breaking up a complex motion into separate, independent motions to make it easier for members to understand and vote upon. Also known as division of a question.
executive committee or board: Committee composed of officers of a group, often including the immediate past president.
executive session: A meeting or a part of a meeting in which the proceedings are kept secret.
ex officio: Membership on a board or committee by virtue of holding an official position in a group. (For example, the vice president of the United States serves ex officio as president of the U.S. Senate.)
extend debate: To officially increase the time members may debate an issue.
floor: The right of a member to speak, to address a meeting and have the attention of the membership, as in “obtaining the floor.”
gavel: A small hammer that chairs sometimes rap once or twice to open or close a meeting.
incidental motion: A motion that arises from another motion.
in order: Parliamentary term for “correct.”
lay on the table: Set aside temporarily.
limit debate: To officially restrict the amount of time members may debate an issue.
main motion: Any motion that introduces business at a meeting.
majority: More than half of the members who are present and voting on an issue. Members who don't vote aren't counted when determining majority.
meeting: Gathering or assembly of members to conduct business.
minutes: Official record of what transpired at a meeting as recorded by the group secretary.
motion: Proposal for action by a group at a meeting. Also called a question.
move: To make a motion.
notice of meeting: Official announcement of a meeting and its particulars (date, time, place, purpose).
order of business: Agenda. The order in which items on the agenda will be taken up by the membership.
orders of the day: Business that is to be taken up at a particular time and day. Members can make a privileged motion to insist that this be done.
out of order: Statement or action that the chair declares is not appropriate or correct parliamentary practice.
parliamentarian: Someone who is expert in parliamentary procedure.
parliamentary authority: The rules of order that a group uses as its final (binding) authority on parliamentary procedure.
parliamentary inquiry: Member's question to the chair about correctness of parliamentary procedure.
pending motion: Any motion that is on the floor.
plurality: In matters of voting, the greatest number of votes given to one candidate in a field of three or more choices (this may or may not be a majority of the votes).
point of information: Question to the chair asking for more information (but not on parliamentary procedure).
point of order: A question or statement by a member about a potential violation of the rules, which must be raised at the time it occurs.
point of privilege: Request for immediate attention to a matter that affects members, such as safety or comfort.
postpone indefinitely: To put off a motion for an indefinite period. This motion then can't be considered at the meeting in progress.
postpone to definite time: Put off consideration of a motion to a specific future date.
presiding officer: Also known as the chair. Usually the president but can also be an officer the president designates to preside over (run) the meeting.
previous question: Motion to close debate on a main motion and put it to a vote immediately.
privileged motion: Motion that addresses a matter of importance that affects the comfort and safety of a member. It can interrupt any business on the floor.
program: Agenda for a meeting, which may include a speaker, meal, and/or social function.
pro tem: Temporary.
proxy: Power to act on behalf of someone else, usually used in absentee voting (not recommended for regular meetings).
question: See previous question.
quorum: The official number of members required to conduct business. This number is established by the group's or organization's bylaws.
rank of motion: One motion has more importance than another. For example, privileged motions always assume precedence over other motions because privileged motions concern conditions such as the comfort or safety of members (the meeting room is too warm, and so on).
recess: A short break in a meeting.
reconsider: A motion to review a previous decision and take another vote.
refer to committee: Send a matter to a committee for study and recommendation of action.
regular meeting: A scheduled meeting of a group or organization.
rescind: To nullify a vote on a matter at a previous meeting. A two-thirds majority is required.
roll call vote: Voice vote where members respond by saying “yes” or “no” when their names are called.
second: To confirm that another member wants a motion considered (debated). A member states, “I second the motion” or “Second.”
session: One or more meetings on one issue; each meeting continues the work of the previous meeting in a session.
special meeting: Meeting called to discuss one or more specific topics; no other topics may be discussed at this meeting.
subsidiary motion: A motion that disposes of another motion. Also called a secondary motion.
take from the table: Motion to bring back a motion that was previously before the membership.
tellers: Members appointed or elected to help with elections who distribute ballots, collect and count them, then report the results to the chair.
time and place at which to adjourn: Motion that sets up a time and place for the next meeting, usually done by temporary groups or organizations that may not have an established meeting place. This motion is not used to adjourn a meeting.
treasurer's report: The financial report of the group or organization.
two-thirds vote: A vote that has twice as many members voting for as those against.
unanimous consent: Also called general consent. When no members object to a motion, there is unanimous or general consent, and there does not need to be a vote on a matter.
unfinished business: Any matters carried over from a previous meeting. Also includes any motions that have been postponed to the current meeting.
videoconference: Meeting where participants are connected through the use of television (there is a picture as well as sound).
withdraw a motion: A member takes back a motion he or she made. This can be done until it's stated by the chair. After that, the membership must give permission to withdraw.