I heard a lawyer say "I move to speak" in a sitcom and I wonder what its nuances are.

Searching for the phrase doesn't give many results, so it seems like it's not a common phrase.

Is it only used for taking one's turn to speak? Announcements, etc?

  • 2
    It's probably a (poor) attempt to mimic "Robert's Rules of Order" and other practices in formal meetings, where a speaker from the "floor" must be recognized by the Chair before speaking.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


7. To make a formal motion in parliamentary procedure: move for an adjournment.
American Heritage Dictionary

"parliamentary procedure" here does not only refer to a legislative parliament, but can include meetings of:

clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies.
Parliamentary procedure

A motion is a proposal:

8. Law An application made to a court for an order or a ruling.
9. A formal proposal put to the vote under parliamentary procedures.
American Heritage Dictionary

Collins Dictionary says that "to move" in this sense is usually followed by "for":

  1. (Parliamentary Procedure) (when: tr, often takes a clause as object; when intr, often foll by for) to suggest (a proposal) formally, as in debating or parliamentary procedure
    Collins English Dictionary

This is the formation of the first example sentence above: "move for an adjournment."

But "to" can also follow "move", as shown by the use of the following:

Motion to strike
Motion to quash
Motion to recess

You want to take a break for a while.
• After recognition, " Mister Chairman , I move to recess for ten minutes."
Robert's Rules Cheat Sheet

You haven't given much context of the phrase used in the sitcom, but "I move to speak" sounds like a participant in an assembly/meeting/court is asking permission to speak. A chairman may put the motion to a vote. In other cases, such as in a courtroom, the motion may be granted or denied by a single judge.

  • The sentence might be used, in a jocular sense, when someone among a group of people talking is trying to "get a word in edgewise".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 12:49
  • This is the correct answer without brio. It can be used in everyday conversation for: I suggest we do x.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 13:03
  • It may also be intended to reference legal motions and courtroom speech. Of course, the joke is that no one actually makes a motion to speak—regular people just don't talk like that, and even in court or Parliament the procedure to be recognized would never include that phrase, because once you say "I move" you're already speaking.
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 5:17
  • @1006a That's true that regular people don't talk like that. But to say it doesn't make sense because you're already speaking isn't quite true. "I move to speak" may be a customary way to ask for permission to make a subsequent longer act of speaking, such as to make an application or an address. You have to be speaking in the first place in order to ask permission to speak further. Also remember that "I move" is to make a motion/proposal. For all I know the exchange might have gone: "Your Honour, I move to speak." Judge: "Granted." Now counsel can address the judge.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 6:11
  • 1
    @Zebrafish I have to go to meetings about every week that are run by Robert's Rules, and have a law degree, and I have never heard anyone say "I move to speak". There are official ways to be recognized (get permission to speak) and none of them are that phrase. In meetings you have to be officially recognized before you can even make a motion (generally by standing or raising your hand and waiting for the chair to recognize you), and in court you would usually say something like "Your Honor, may I be heard?" This sounds like someone who doesn't speak legalese trying to sound lawyer-ish.
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 8:37