phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Table It!

Posted by ESC on August 07, 2000

In Reply to: Table It! posted by Randy Schultz on August 06, 2000

: : I am wondering if anyone knows what the phrase "table that thought" means....

: : Just a guess, but it may mean to put or remove on or into a timetable for future discussion or reference.

: : Main Entry: 2table
: : Function: transitive verb
: : Inflected Form(s): ta·bled; ta·bling /-b(&-)li[ng]/
: : Date: 15th century
: : 1 : to enter in a table
: : 2 a British : to place on the agenda b : to remove (as a parliamentary motion) from consideration indefinitely c : to put on a table.

: 'Table that thought' means to present that thought/idea for discussion amongst the group/at the meeting/in the chat room etc. etc. It's a phrase now used by some in place of the more understandable "present your idea".

It's a legislative thing. I've lived in the capital city of my state (in the U.S.) for 20 years and have survived several sessions of our General Assembly. My understanding is that tabling a bill is not good. It takes it out of circulation and delays a vote on the measure. Tabling a bill usually kills it.

However, there's a different meaning of the term depending on whether it is used in Britain or the U.S. There is a lengthy discussion of "table" in Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

Here's an excerpt:
"table -- 1. propose for discussion; 2. postpone discussion. Like sanction and cleave, the verb 'table' is an example of antilogy, a word that holds opposite meanings. The verb began in British English in the eighteenth century with the sense of 'to bring up for consideration or discussion.'...In American usage, however, the verb 'table' took the opposite meaning in the mid-1800s of 'to put away or postpone discussion,' a synonym of the verb 'shelve.'...Leaving a proposal 'to lie on the table' led to this sense of postponing indefinitely. The Archives of New Jersey show this political delaying practice as early as 1744: 'The House of Representatives...would not commit it (a bill) but ordered it to be on the table.'..."