64 Reasons to Prefer a Definition

Advanced debaters: Most of these entries are kritiks. Can you spot the ones that aren’t?

Disclaimer: This list is intended to be fairly exhaustive. Thus, most of these entries are very weak and should not be used in a round.

Framer’s Intent. This definition allows us to debate the resolution as the league intended.

Ground. This definition gives both sides equal room to debate.

Eliminates Ground. Definitions that give equal room to debate make judging impossible and don’t reflect truth. This definition suggests a winner.

Fairness. This definition is fair for everyone.

Abusiveness. (Subset of Fairness) My opponent is abusing his privileges with his definition. Stop the abuse by using mine.

Clarity. This definition is easier to understand.

Sheds Light. This definition makes the resolution easier to understand.

Man on the Street. A layman would use this definition.

Expert Source. This definition was written by someone who knows the term better.

Unbiased. This definition was written by someone who has no personal stake in the matter.

Widely Accepted. This definition is so widely used that it has become the standard meaning.

Brightline. This definition provides a clear standard according to which some other issue in the round can be decided.

Standard Source. This definition is from a standard, well-respected English dictionary.

American English. We’re debating in America, so we should use an American English dictionary, not something like Oxford’s.

Non-Academic Source. Academic dictionaries are for learning how to use words, not give insight into their precise meaning. This definition is better because it is not from an academic source.

Topical Source. When people want a definition in this particular field, they use this source.

Operational Source. I studied this resolution all year and wrote a definition that’s perfect for understanding this debate.

Non-operational Source. My opponent cannot be as qualified or unbiased as my source.

Multiple Sources. (Thanks to Katie Philpott) My definition is supported by more sources than my opponent’s.

Personal Expertise. I have credentials in this field beyond just studying it this year for debate, and I can define terms with authority.

Entertainment Value. This definition is the most fun.

Judge’s Preference. This definition appeals to your bias.

Personal Privilege. I ask the judge and my opponent to accept this definition as a personal favor or accommodation.

Agreement. We agreed before the round to use this definition.

Primacy. This definition came first in the round. Rejecting it would render entire speeches meaningless. It is now beyond contestation.

Recency. This definition came later in the round. It reflects the most up-to-date understanding.

Relevance. This definition has more to do with the resolution/debate.

Specificity. This definition is more specific, giving everyone more tools to use.

Agreeability. This is a definition everyone can agree on.

Educational Value. This definition will better serve the academic goals of the debate.

Compound Definition. This operational definition combines the one I wanted with the one my opponent wanted, providing the best and most complete definition possible.

Recent Date. The English language is always changing. This definition was written more recently, giving it a better chance to be accurate.

Non-recent Date. This definition has withstood the test of time, proving its accuracy.

Framer’s Date. We should understand the resolution according to what it meant when it was written. This definition came out right around the time the resolution was released.

Gives Meaning. Only with this definition does the resolution mean anything.

Describes Conflict. (Subset of Gives Meaning) The resolution suggests that two entities are in conflict. This definition accommodates that understanding.

Moral Imperative. This definition must be accepted on moral grounds.

Time Honored. Over the years, many people have used this definition. You should too.

Precedent. (Subset of Time Honored) Other judges use this definition. You should too.

Endorsement. So-and-so supports this definition. You should too.

Hypothetical Endorsement. (Subset of Endorsement) If he were here, so-and-so would support this definition. You should too.

Personal Attack. My opponent ran the competing definition just to hurt me. Don’t let him get away with it.

Personal Reward. I deserve to be rewarded. I will accept the use of this definition as my reward.

Punitive Action. My opponent deserves to punished. The use of this definition is suitable punishment.

Real Ballot Consequences. Use of this definition will cause a positive impact on the round/tournament/season/league/my career.

Real-World Use. This definition is more useful in practical contexts.

Makes Sense. This definition is the only one that makes sense.

Laugh Test. My opponent’s definition is absurd; mine isn’t.

Efficiency. This definition is shorter and neater, which makes it better.

Occam’s Razor. (Subset of Efficiency) This definition is more succinct and makes the fewest assumptions, so it is better.

Contextual Meaning. While my opponent’s definition is correct in many contexts, the context of the resolution is better described by mine.

Added Meaning. This definition contains all the content of my opponent’s, but with an added phrase for some good reason. This means it has all the positive traits of my opponent’s; now it’s just a little better.

Repaired. This definition has all the good parts of my opponent’s, with the bad parts removed.

Melting Pot. I added all the good parts of my opponent’s definition to this one.

Completeness. This definition includes everything a definition of this term needs, while the competing definition leaves something out.

Sets Example. This definition will establish a positive precedent.

Source Question. My opponent is dishonest, which casts his definition into question.

Source Rejection. (An extreme form of Source Question) Everything my opponent says should be rejected, including his definition.

Source Attack. (An extreme form of Source Rejection) My opponent is pure evil, so his definition can’t be right.

Ex Cathedra. (This entry is blasphemous and should therefore be avoided) I speak on behalf of God or am otherwise supernaturally infallible.

Personal Intellect. I am a genius, so my (operational) definition is the best.

Fixes Resolution. The resolution doesn’t work as it was intended. This definition repairs it.

Audience Benefit. This definition better serves the needs of the audience.

Young Ears. (Subset of Audience Benefit) For the sake of the young people in the room, use my G-rated definition.

Can you think of any more? Comment and let me know!