Multilingual Glossary

IDebate :: Glossary
Here you can see a list of debate related terms, their descriptions and translations to numerous languages. The default view of the content is in English, which enables you to see what an item you might know in English is known in other languages, and vice versa.

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Term Description
Adjudication panel

a team of adjudicators/judges. In some debating traditions it has an odd number of panelists to allow for split decisions


a person who judges a debate, a judge


The part of the affirmative case about policies that demonstrates the positive effects of the affirmative’s plan.


To advocate something simply means to support it with an argument. For example, you may advocate going to the mall by making arguments in favor of going there.


The side in the debate that affirms the resolution. In contemporary policy debate the affirmative will defend an example of the resolution.


A fallacy of language that occurs when a word in an argument has two or more possible meanings and the listener has no means to determine adequately which meaning the arguer intends.


An argument that supports associations between things based on their similarity or dissimilarity.


An answer is simply a response to an argument.

Appeal to fear

A fallacious argument that occurs when an arguer uses irrelevant appeals to fear to take the focus off the arguer’s original argument.

Appeal to ignorance

Appeal to ignorance is based on the assumption that whatever has not been proven false must be true (or whatever has not been proven true must be false).

Appeal to popularity

A fallacious argument that occurs when a debater uses the popularity of a person, product, or belief to justify a favorable conclusion about that person, product, or belief.

Appeal to tradition

A fallacious argument made when a debater argues in favor of a particular action on the grounds of tradition rather than on the basis of that action’s merits.


An apriori claim is a claim that one teams makes that they will say is more important than all of claims made by the other side. For example, an Affirmative team may argue that the judge has a moral obligation to support their Affirmative.


A controversial statement, frequently called a claim, supported by evidence and a warrant. The standards of a logically good argument include acceptability, relevance, and sufficiency.

Argument ad hominem

A fallacy that occurs when an arguer attacks a person’s character or background, which is irrelevant to the claim.

Argument by example

An argument that supports an association between specific examples and a general rule.

Argument by incompatibility

An argument designed to reject something because it is incompatible with something else.

Argument by principle

An argument that supports a certain action based on the connection between that action and a general principle.

Argument from authority

An argument that tempts us to agree with the writer's assumptions based on the authority or a famous person or entity.

Argument sphere

A community within which arguments are made.

Argument structure

The way evidence and warrants are arranged to support a claim. See also Convergent argument structure; Independent argument structure; Simple argument structure.


The uniquely human use of reasoning to communicate.


The organization of arguments in a speech.


a claim/statement not supported by reasons or evidence (see argument)


people listening to/watching debate


An argument that supports a claim with the opinion of experts in the field.


A document on which the judge records the decision, the reasons for the decision, and speaker points awarded to each debater.

Bandwagon appeals

Bandwagon appeal encourages the listener to agree with a statement because everybody else does.

Begging the question

A fallacy of acceptability that occurs when a debater introduces evidence that is the same as the claim.


advantages of implementing a proposal presented in a debate

Blanket ban

Making a general and total prohibition of an action or activity formerly allowed because it is shown to be harmful.


Most tournaments have preliminary debates and elimination rounds. If you win enough preliminary debates, you will break to elimination rounds. Each tournament participant will have the same number of preliminary rounds, but only a given number will advance to eliminations.

Burden of Proof

The main objective that a side aims to reach, and one that will be reached following the logic of their arguments and the evidence used to support these arguments.

Burden of rebuttal

responsibility of both teams to respond to arguments of their opponents

Burden of refutation

usually used with reference to the responsibility of the negative team to respond to the arguments of the affirmative team


A card is simply a quote that teams read in a debate. These quotes are called cards because debaters used to bring their quotes to tournaments on index cards.


in a debate, a policy, course of action, or state of affairs supported by a team and the reasons for which they support it.

Case shift

A case shift occurs when a team alters or changes their stand or proposal from one speaker to the next. This usually happens when the opposing team points out a flaw in the proposal and pressures the following speaker to either drop, expand, or modify their stance.

Case split/Case division

A case split is the distribution of roles of the speakers of a team and their corresponding arguments. The case split is provided by the first speaker of each team as the skeleton or backbone to their proposal. An example case split given by the first spe

Causal argument

An argument that supports associations between causes and effects. See also Contributory causal argument; Intervening and counteracting causal argument; Necessary causal argument; Sufficient causal argument.

Cause-and-effect proposition

A proposition that asserts that one object causes a specific outcome.

Cause-and-effect reasoning

The type of reasoning that examines the reasons certain actions, events, or conditions (causes) create specific consequences (effects).

Cause-effect relationship

in reasoning, one thing causing another


in some debating traditions the presiding adjudicator who chairs the adjudication panel and holds the casting vote in the event of a tie

Chief Adjudicator (CA)

the person responsible for overseeing the competition (tabulation, judging, etc.) at a debate tournament.


The citation is the source the evidence comes from. The citation includes the author’s name, the source, the title (if different than the source), the page number of URL, the year, and the date.


A claim is simply an assertion made by another team. They may claim, for example, that an economic decline will trigger poverty.


the points of disagreement (contention) in a debate between the opposing teams

Comparative advantages case

A method used for developing a case about policies that advocates the adoption of the plan based on its advantages compared with the status quo or some other policy.

Comparative policy proposition

Compares two or more policies.

Comparative value proposition

Compares two or more objects with respect to some value.


the end of the speech in debate


presentation of a team’s arguments (as opposed to rebuttal)

Constructive speech

A speech that presents a debater’s basic arguments for or against the resolution.


arguments and evidence in a debate (sometimes also referred to as “Matter” in some debating traditions)

Contributory causal argument

An argument that states that the purported cause is one of several contributors to the effect.

Convergent argument structure

Two or more bits of evidence that, in combination with one another, support a claim.


An argument raised by an opposing team to directly refute a previous argument.


in some debates, a proposal presented by the negative team, as an alternative to the proposal presented by the affirmative team


a value that debaters defend by supporting or opposing a given resolution or a standard by which judges may want to judge a given debate. In some debate traditions, debaters are encouraged to explicitly state a criterion in their case


in some debates a part of debate reserved for questions and answers, in which one debater cross- examines a debater from another team


The process of arguing about claims in situations where an adjudicator must decide the outcome.

Debate format

set of rules determining number of speakers, speaking times, etc.


A decision rule is an argument that one team contends is apriori – the most important argument in the debate/an argument that trumps all other arguments.


An informal allowance of an otherwise illegal activity. Retain the law but reducing the enforcement, i.e.turning a blind eye to the illegal act.


type of reasoning where a debater arrives at a specific conclusion from a general truth (for example: killing is always wrong, death sentence is killing, therefore death sentence is wrong)


in a debate, explanation of crucial (and often ambiguous terms in a debate resolution (topic)

Definitional challenge

An official objection made by the Opposition regarding the context or interpretation of the motion set by the Proposition/ Government. Depending on the format of debate, it may be only acceptable on specific grounds.


eye contact, voice modulation, hand gestures, language, the use of notes, and anything else that affects effective presentation


An argument that creates new categories by dividing an old category into two new ones.


Situation when the speaker presumes that his or her beliefs are beyond question. ("I'm right because I'm right.")

Elimination rounds

in a debate tournament, a round in which a losing team, leaves the tournament and the winning team progresses to another round


A fallacy of language that occurs when a word is used in two different senses and the meaning of the word is shifted during the argument. It could also refer to telling part of truth, while deliberately hiding the entire truth (similar to lying by omission).


Different types of information (facts, statistics, theories, opinions, or narratives) that are used to support arguments. Evidence can be divided into two categories: that relating to reality (facts, theories, and presumptions) and that relating to prefer


in debate and argumentation: fact, statistics, etc. used to support a given claim


Extending an argument basically refers to keeping the argument alive in later speeches rather than kicking it. Extension includes refutation of the arguments made against it.


objective and verifiable information used in argument to support a claim (that Planet Earth rotates around the Sun is a fact)

Facts (evidence)

Observed or observable data.


An argument that fails to meet any one of the standards of acceptability, relevance, and sufficiency. See also Argument ad hominem; Ambiguity; Appeal to fear; Appeal to popularity; Appeal to tradition; Begging the question; Equivocation;

Fallacy of composition

A fallacious argument where the evidence is drawn from some part of a whole but the conclusion is about the whole.

Fallacy of division

An erroneous argument where the evidence is drawn from the whole, but the conclusion is made about the part.

Fallacy of incompatibility

Occurs when a debater makes a statement as evidence that is at odds with another statement made by the debater, or when a debater’s argument is incompatible with some action she has performed or recommended elsewhere.

False dichotomy

False dichotomy consists of a consideration of only the two extremes when there are more intermediate possibilities.

Faulty analogy

A fallacious argument that occurs when two cases are compared with each other but are not similar in terms of the relationship stated in the comparison.

Faulty causality

Faulty causality refers to the setting up of a cause-and-effect relationship when none exists.

Floor debate

debate between audience members after the main debate and before the result is announced.


A style of note-taking during a debate that notates each speech into a column to make seeing rebuttals easier.


The "product" of note-taking during a debate. See Flow.


conclusion made about something, after analysis of a few examples (i.e. all debaters are geeks)

Guilt by association

A fallacious argument that occurs when a person’s argument is attacked using that person’s association with groups and people rather than using issues pertinent to the argument.

Hasty conclusion

A fallacious argument that fails to meet the standard of sufficiency. It includes hasty generalization, irrelevant slippery slope arguments, fallacy of composition, fallacy of division, faulty analogy, improper appeal to practice, post hoc fallacy.

Hasty generalization

A fallacy of reasoning by example that occurs when the examples selected to support the claim are either insufficient in number or in their representativeness.

Independent argument structure

Several pieces of evidence, any one of which can provide sufficient support for a claim.

International debating

Debating that occurs between representatives of different countries, nations, or cultures.

Intervening and counteracting causal argument

An argument that demonstrates a cause that prevents the completion of a cause-and-effect sequence.

Irrelevant reason

An argument that fails to meet the relevance criterion. It includes ad hominem argument, appeal to fear, appeal to popularity, appeal to tradition, guilt by association, poisoning the well, red herring, and straw person.


An observer of a debate who has the responsibility of deciding which team has done a better job of debating.

Judge paradigm

A judge paradigm is the paradigm that the judge uses to evaluate the debate.

Judge philosophy

A judge philosophy is a written statement by a judge that establishes his or her preferences on various debate practices and theoretical issues. More than 1,500 judge philosophies are freely available on Planet Debate.

Karl Popper debate format

A debate format that matches two three-person teams against each other: one affirming the proposition and one opposing it. Each team has one constructive speech presenting its basic arguments for and against the proposition and two constructive speeches refuting the opposing team’s arguments and summarizing its own.

Loaded term

A fallacy of language that occurs when the arguer labels something with a word that includes an evaluation and that evaluation plays a role in supporting the conclusion.


A mechanism outlines the methods or action-plans to be implemented in a proposal to ensure the objectives or burden of proof is fulfilled. Mechanisms are only required for policy debates. A good mechanism must be logically sound and feasible within the context of the debate to be acceptible by adjudicators. For example, naming logging as a way to generate income for Antartica is logically unsound since Antartica is not known to have expansive woodlands for logging.

Method of agreement

A method of reasoning used in cause-and-effect analysis that examines more than one case where two elements are simultaneously present, concluding that one is the cause of the other.

Method of correlation

A method of reasoning used in cause-and-effect analysis that examines examples that demonstrate that as the amount of the cause increases (or decreases), the effect will also increase (or decrease).

Method of difference

A method of reasoning used in cause-and-effect analysis that examines examples wherein both the purported cause and the purported effect are absent, concluding that one is the cause of the other.

Minor repair

A strategy the negative uses to defend the present system with minor changes.


A model is the framework of an action-plan. It can also be used to refer to existing examples of policies and their manner of implementation. E.g. the Oklahoma model of privatization of secondary education through distribution of education coupons to students.


a person responsible for keeping order during a public debate


debate topic, resolution

Mutually exclusive

When two things are mutually exclusive, it means that one cannot take place if the other were to happen. The reverse is true if two things are not mutually exclusive. Debaters often use this term to dismiss a counterproposal by the opposing team. For example, a side pushing for increased penalty to reduce wrongdoing, later to be opposed with the counterproposal of 'increased awareness and education campaigns', can defend their proposal by saying that 'increasing campaigns is not mutually exclusive to increasing penalty'.

Necessary causal argument

An argument that states that without the suspected cause, the effect cannot occur, thus the cause is necessary to produce the effect.


The part of the affirmative case about policies that identifies a certain problem in the status quo that the existing system cannot solve.

Need-plan-benefit case

A method used for developing a case about policies that involves the identification of a need, proposal of a plan, and a demonstration of the advantages of the plan.



Non Sequitur argument

This term comes from Latin, meaning "Doesn't follow". A non sequitur is a statement that does not relate logically to what came before it.


The pairing is the sheet that is released by the tab room before the start of each debate. The pairing identifies your team, the team you are debating, the room where the debate will occur, and who the judge(s) of the debate are.


If an argument is persuasive it is convincing to the audience.


A course of action proposed by the affirmative when debating a proposition of policy that proposes to solve the problems identified in the “need.”

Points of information (POIs)

Allow an opposite team member to offer a brief point during the current speech. Used in Worlds Schools Style and British Parliamentary Style debates.

Poisoning the well

A fallacious argument that attempts to discredit a person or a source in advance of that person’s argument.


a plan in debate, outlining a specific action, agent of action, time, cost, etc.

Post hoc fallacy

Occurs when a debater assumes that because one thing predates another, the first must have caused the second.

Preliminary round

one of the rounds at the beginning of the tournament, where all teams progress to the next round (see elimination round)

Preparation time

The time allotted to each team for preparation during the debate (eight minutes in Karl Popper debate).


The assumption that current policies will be maintained until someone makes a case that another policy is a better option.

Presumption (evidence)

A statement concerning what people ordinarily expect to happen in the course of normal events.

Prima Facie Burden

Prima Facia burdens are generally things that the affirmative must prove in order to win. Generally, they must prove that their plan is inherent, that significant harms will occur if the plan is not adopted, and that the affirmative can solve for the identified harms.

Problematic premise

A fallacious argument that fails to meet the acceptability criterion. It includes begging the question and the fallacy of incompatibility.


Debate topic, sometimes also used to describe an affirmative team, also a final claim made by a debater and supported by a combination of claims.

Proposition of definition

Asserts that a certain definition should be applied to a certain category of things.

Proposition of description

Asserts a proper way to describe an object or a number of objects.

Proposition of evaluation

Attaches a value to any object.

Proposition of relationship

Assert a certain relationship between objects.

Proposition of similarity

Asserts that two objects are similar to each other.


The process used to connect evidence to the claim. See also warrant.



Rebuttal speeches

The speeches in the debate that challenge and defend arguments introduced in the constructive speeches.

Red herring

A fallacious argument that shifts the focus from the original argument.


responding directly to the reasoning or evidence presented by the other side


process of gathering evidence prior to a debate


An exception made to a claim. A reservation usually involves a situation in which the arguer does not wish to maintain the claim.


debate motion or topic

Risk analysis

Risk analysis involves assessing risks of the costs and benefits of a given proposal. The central elements of risk analysis are the impact, the probability, and the time-frame.


A round is a single debate that occurs during the course of a tournament.

Round overview

A round overview is a global overview of the entire debate that is often advanced by one of the final two rebutallists. Some judges appreciate round overviews and others think that they are a waste of previous speech time.

Scare tactics

An argument used to frighten the listeners into agreeing with the speaker (usually without a logical argument to support the claim).

Sentimental appeal

An attempt to appeal to the hearts of listeners so that they forget to use their minds.

Simple argument structure

A single claim leading from a single piece of evidence following along a single warrant.

Simple policy proposition

A proposition that urges adoption of a certain policy.

Simple value proposition

Attaches a value to a single object.

Slippery slope argument

An argument that connects a series of events in a causal chain that ultimately leads to disaster or calamity. Slippery slope arguments are fallacies if the series of events is improperly connected.

Speaker award

The person with the greatest speaker point totals at the end of a tournament is the tournament's top speaker and receives a speaker award. The person with the second highest total speaker points is the second speaker.

Speaker points

In every debate a judge assigns speaker points to each debater. Speaker points are rather subjective.

Standard of acceptability

Determines whether the evidence is acceptable to those who judge the argument.

Standard of relevance

Determines whether the evidence is relevant to the claim it supports.

Standard of sufficiency

Determines whether all of the evidence taken as a whole is sufficient to support the claim.

Standards of a logically good argument

Standards are acceptability, relevance, and sufficiency.


A system devised to determine the key issues of clash in a topic. These key issues can be used to develop a system of research.


type of evidence in debate based on

Status quo

The course of action currently pursued (i.e., the present system).

Straw person fallacy

Occurs when an arguer, intentionally or unintentionally, misinterprets an opponent’s argument, then proceeds to refute the misinterpreted argument as if it were the opponent’s actual argument.


The use of language, voice, and body language used by a debater.

Sufficient causal argument

An argument that states that the presence of a cause virtually guarantees (is sufficient for) the presence of the effect.


formal record of results across a tournament.

Tab room

The tab room is where the pairings for the tournament are produced and the results are calculated.

Tabula Rasa

Tabula rasa is Latin for “blank slate.” Generally, debaters wish judges to be “tabula rasa – or “tab” for short. They want the judge to leave as many predispositions as possible at home and judge the debate solely based on the arguments made by the debaters.

Tautological argument

Asserting an argument that is factual and unrefutable as justification for one's case. For example, in a debate about defending rights to freedom of speech, a debater who provides the argument 'Freedom of speech should be protected because it is constitututional'.


Teamline is a concept, a basic statement the team in a particular debate uses (Proposition: "why the motion is correct/true", Opposition: "why the motion is incorrect/not true").


A statement that explains other facts or that predicts the occurrence of events.

Time-place set up

Defining a motion to contextualize the debate only for a specific time or a specific place (that is otherwise not relevant historically or currently) because the side happens to have expert knowledge of that time and place.


person responsible for keeping time and signaling the time remaining before the end of their speech

Toulmin Model of argument

A model of argument developed by philosopher Stephen Toulmin. The basic model includes evidence, warrant, claim, and reservation.


The tournament is the place where debates occur. All tournaments have a given number of preliminary debates where everyone participates and then elimination rounds where two person teams debate until the last one is undefeated.

Trend analysis

A debater makes a trend analysis by illustrating an established pattern to support a logical deduction or project an outcome.

Truism (or Truistic)

Something that is so obviously or self-evidently true that it does not need proof or argument. Defining a motion in a truistic way is to effectively make the motion self-serving and undebatable.


When you turn an argument you say they opposite. If the other side argues you spend money, and you argue you save money, you are turning their argument. There are three types of turns – link turns, internal link turns, and impact turns. Be careful not to double-turn yourself.

Two wrongs fallacy

Occurs when a debater makes an argument urging the audience to accept, or condone, one thing that is wrong because another similar thing, also wrong, has been accepted and condoned.


A fallacy of language that occurs when the meaning of some word or words in an argument is indeterminate and when such vagueness prevents listeners from assessing the argument.


Evidence based on the audience’s preferred value.

Value case

A case supporting a proposition of value. Three principal elements of such a case are describing, relating, and evaluating.

Value categories (evidence)

An arrangement of values into groups so that a group (category) can be used as evidence.

Value hierarchy (evidence)

Evidence based on how values are arranged in relation to each other.


Stated or unstated reasoning process that explains the relationship between the evidence and the claim.