AskDefine | Define dilatory

Dictionary Definition

dilatory adj
1 inclined to waste time and lag behind [syn: laggard]
2 wasting time [syn: laggard, poky, pokey]
3 using cautious slow strategy to wear down opposition; avoiding direct confrontation; "a fabian policy" [syn: fabian]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Intentionally delaying (someone or something)
  2. slow or tardy
  3. intended to cause delay, gain time, or defer decision, example: a dilatory strategy

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

Dilatory tactics or motions, in parliamentary procedure, are those used to delay or obstruct business or annoy the deliberative assembly; or, in legislative procedure, to delay consideration of a subject for other reasons. Some types of motions are suitable only for specific circumstances, and their use is otherwise absurd and dilatory. For instance, a motion to refer a resolution to a committee is dilatory if its object would be defeated by the delay in taking action. At a special meeting called to consider a matter, a motion to lay that matter on the table is also dilatory.
Reasonableness is often used as a criterion in deciding whether a motion is dilatory. An appeal from the decision of the chair is dilatory if there cannot possibly be two reasonable opinions about the ruling.Likewise, under the common parliamentary law, a motion for a division of the assembly is dilatory if the results of the voice vote are already clear to any reasonable person. However, in the U.S. Congress, the constitutional right of a member to demand the yeas and nays cannot be denied even if the purpose is dilatory. The repetitive use of privileged motions can also be dilatory. RONR notes: In legislative bodies, dilatory motions can take the form of demanding quorum calls and votes at every opportunity. Another favorite dilatory tactic is for members to not answer when their name is called during the quorum roll call. The problem of dilatory tactics in such bodies dates back to the beginnings of parliamentary procedure in England and the United States. Jefferson's Manual, for instance, only requires the Speaker to direct a bill to be read upon the desire of any member "if the request is really for information and not for delay." In the U.S. Senate, there are no formal rules against dilatory tactics except under cloture. Between 1831 and 1900, dilatory votes to adjourn comprised more than 10% of all Senate votes, and successfully delayed recognition of Louisiana's Reconstruction government until 1865. Binder notes that in the 46th United States Congress, motions to adjourn consumed 23 percent of all floor votes. Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed famously took countermeasures against dilatory tactics, such as ruling dilatory motions out of order, and was sustained by the house. Some legislatures impose quotas on dilatory motions; for instance, Nova Scotia imposes a maximum of one motion to hoist, one motion to refer to a committee, and one reasoned amendment per reading. The Rules of the U.S. Congress as revised in 1911 declare that no dilatory motion shall be entertained by the Speaker.
Robert's Rules of Order notes that a presiding officer has a duty to protect the assembly from the abuse of parliamentary processes for dilatory purposes. If he becomes convinced that a member is using parliamentary processes for dilatory purposes, he can rule the motions out of order or refuse to recognize the member. But "[i]f the chair only suspects that a motion is not made in good faith, he should give the maker of the motion the benefit of the doubt."
Mason's Legislative Manual states: Dilatory motions and tactics can also occur in judicial contexts, when one side uses them to slow down the trial.

Other meanings

The term "dilatory motion" does not always refer to an ill-intentioned motion. In Canada, "dilatory" motions refer to those "designed to dispose of the original question before the House either for the time being or permanently," and includes, for instance, motions to proceed to the orders of the day; postpone definitely; adjourn; and so on. Jeremy Bentham held that such types of dilatory motions are useful, noting, "Precipitation may arise from two causes: from ignorance, when a judgment is formed without the collection of all the information required—from passion, when there is not the necessary calm for considering the question in all its aspects."


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1