Readjourn - definition/Adjourn - antonym

Discussion in 'English Only' started by debfrance, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    Okay, I may seem a bit specious on this one, but it's taken up a lot of time looking for a correct answer, and I don't want to let go without a defining answer. I'm turning to you, brothers in arms, for help. I cannot find either a definition other than one incorrect definition, of readjourn, nor the antonym of adjourn. I was trying to express the idea that "school adjourned in July and will readjourn (using another word) in September". I've come up with reconvene on my own, but I'm perplexed at either the misinformation ( readjourn - to adjourn again), or no available information. In this case, re- is not signifying repeating an action, but transforms adjourn to readjourn, creating an antonym. I may be way off on this all and I'm now second-guessing myself. Anyway, thanks for any enlightenment.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello debfrance, and welcome to the forums!

    I think you're on an impossible mission....

    To the best of my knowledge, readjourn has only one meaning - to adjourn again:)
  3. kitenok Senior Member

    Hi debfrance,
    I agree with Loob, and will add that "readjourn" is rare and used only as the iterative of "adjourn" in the (archaic?) sense of "postpone." So: "we adjourned this business until June and then decided to readjourn it until August." All examples of readjourn in the OED are in this sense, and none of them are from after 1678.

    For your sentence, why not simply: "School ended in July and will begin again in September."
  4. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    Thanks kitenok and loob, for taking an interest. I teach conversational Business English in France, and occasionally there are obscure questions that arise. I have to be tenacious and thorough in my search for correct and helpful answers and explanations. I googled (wonderful new verb...) "the meeting readjourned" and came up with many examples of it being used as to "re-open", rather than to adjourn again. Perhaps this is within the realm of a black hole of the English language, but I'm not yet ready to let it go at that.

    As for my original sentence, I used "school will reconvene in September".

    Thanks again for the input.
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    The words you want are "reopen" or "reconvene".

    I also find the term "adjourn" an odd one to use to describe what a school does at the end of a term.
  6. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    Thanks again. I didn't mean for the emphasis to be on "school", but on the meanings of adjourn/readjourn. I find it interesting/odd the the use of the prefix re- does not signify repetition of the original word (adjourn), but signifies a sequential extension of the action. I forewarned you with my speciousness... These two words are used frequently, particularly regarding business and professional meetings, court proceedings, etc. Only one of the dictionary references I found defined readjourn, and as a secondary definition, to summon again.
  7. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    I am not sure I understand you. Speaking roughly, "adjourn" means to assign something to another day, and "re-adjourn" (usually) means to assign again to a second time. That is, in its usual meaning "readjourn" is iterative.
  8. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Can you give us details of the Google results you found? My search for "the meeting readjourned" results in only 88 pages, which, given the size of the internet, seems an extremely insignificant number, especially in the face of 952,000 results for "the meeting adjourned". In fact, even viewing repeat pages, on scrolling through the results you only find 66 results, or 16 without duplicates. A veritable drop in the ocean!

    I am in agreement with those who have replied already and do not understand "readjourned" to mean anything other than "adjourned again". I don't find it terribly surprising that 88 people (or rather, without duplicate results, 16 people) would use readjourn in an incorrect manner, to mean "reconvened", even though many of them were official looking documents, for example on the internet sites of local government bodies.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  9. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    As an example: the meeting readjourned the following morning, meaning it began again, after it's suspension. In usage, I don't think it means to suspend again. Thanks for the continued input.
  10. Orange Blossom Senior Member

    U.S.A. English
    From the definitions I've seen, 'readjourn' does not mean "reconvene" but to adjourn again.

    Of course, these are all Webster dictionary variations.

    Edited to add:

    I did just now see one other entry that did state the meaning of "summon" again for readjourn, but that the meaning is not used.

    Orange Blossom
  11. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Welcome to the forums, debfrance. :)

    I think you were wise to go with "reconvene".

    I don't know what you mean by a "sequential extension of the action". The action is repeated, not extended, as far as I can see. In general the prefix "re" indicates a repetition, doesn't it?
  12. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    The verb I am familiar with in this context is resume.

    Uncle Google suggests that it is more common than the others suggested:

    "school will resume" - 23,200 results
    "school will reopen" - 10,900 results
    "school will reconvene" - 224 results

    And just for kicks...

    "school will readjourn" - 1 result
  13. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    Because I've started this, I feel I must continue to follow-up on it rather than give up (even though I really should be getting on with my work at hand...). I do appreciate the forums of, which I've followed over the years. This is my first participation.

    Hello Nun-Translator: Sorry about the "sequential extension of the action" in relation to readjourn. I was trying to be too succinct in explaining that readjourn is the follow-up action to adjourn (to suspend, usually temporarily), and not a repetition of it (it doesn't actually mean to suspend again, but to open again). The prefix re- does indicate repetition, but somehow, not in this case. That's exactly what's piqued my curiosity! For example, when a court (as cited in a Google reference to a U.S. Supreme Court Hearing of Florida official document) readjourns, it signifies the follow-up opening to the previous suspension/adjournment of that particular hearing. As for reconvene, that implies that there was some sort of closure, as does readjourn imply a closure (adjournment). But whereas reconvene means to convene again, readjourn does not mean to adjourn (suspend) again, but to re-open. Ouch, this is hurting my head...

    Hello CycloneViv: Yes, readjourn is an obscure word, but obscure doesn't mean it's not valid. I won't bother with using it again as I prefer using words that easily promote communication and understanding of meaning, and that I can back up if a student should question it. I tried to include those reference details found on Google, but each time I lost my original text here and have had to start from scratch three times, so I gave up... Sorry not to be more complete, but I think if anyone wishes to go further, they can research it themselves.

    This question of the meaning of readjourn came up, and knowing that it does not mean "to adjourn again", I brought it to question. I'll refer this to to the Oxford Dictionary Experts, who can be contacted, by snail mail, with just such questions. Can't figure out where to go for a definitive answer.

    I've really appreciated the input of everyone here. Vive la langue anglaise!
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It is possible that some of the apparent confusion arises because to adjourn a meeting there has to be a meeting
    Therefore, and strictly speaking, to readjourn a meeting the meeting must have already reconvened. A sequence such as:
    First attempt to hold the meeting - adjourned.
    Reconvened meeting - readjourned.
    Reconvened meeting - business concluded.

    I suggest that the 16 instances of "the meeting readjourned" can safely be ignored as eccentric usage - or error.

    Could you give us the source? I can't find this one.

    There are some examples that may be causing confusion.

    For example a meeting may have two distinct purposes - EXAMPLE.

    This meeting first adjourned when it suspended its regular session to begin an executive session.
    The meeting later readjourned when it terminated the executive session to continue its regular session.

    This is a somewhat eccentric use of adjourn, but it is clear that in each case the meeting is stopping doing some kind of business (adjourning or readjourning) and that readjourning does not mean starting something.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    The seven law dictionaries I've just looked at do not contain the word 'readjourn'. That suggests to me that the term is either (1) not in widespread use by the legal profession, or (2) self-evident in meaning, not requiring a legal definition distinct from that to be found in a "civilian" dictionary, or (3) both of the foregoing.

    The verb and noun forms are both in the Webster's Unabridged, 1913 edition.

    Googling the term "will readjourn" produced very few citations. The first few I read were obviously trying to say 'reconvene'. One is current, 2008, from a Californian congressman (Party affiliation withheld to protect something or other) who describes himself as "pro-energy". At least the linguistic precision is consistent in both examples. I'll try to find readjourn as used by a pro-lassitude legislator.


    Another member of the U.S. Congress seems to like misusing the word, but the editors of The Congressional Quarterly
    labeled it with "(sic) " to show that they were unimpressed:

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    My added emphasis.
    I think you have the definitive answer, surely.

    There is no substantive evidence that readjourn is used with any meaning other than the logical meaning, to adjourn again.
    cuchuflete's quoted dictionary definitions support that, as does the Oxford English Dictionary (To adjourn again).

    There are some examples of readjourn being used where reconvene would be appropriate. There is no pattern to this use other than it appearing in the minutes of meetings - usually of small civic bodies.
    There are many more examples of readjourn being used in this context with the expected meaning.
  17. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    Hello GreenWhiteBlue: My interest is really just with adjourn/readjourn, and I'm sorry to have inadvertently put the focus on their use in school proceedings as it was not a good example (although it did get me to thinking about usage...).

    Hello Panjandrum, Because I haven't made more than 30 posts on, the monitor will not allow me to post the URL references to cite my examples. That doesn't help us much... I only sited two, one from a US Supreme Court Hearing in Florida, and another from the minutes of a Board of Education meeting in Rohnert Park, California. Yes, I read your reference regarding executive session and regular session, which seems to be an example of it's exceptional/eccentric use. But the use of readjourn is used in other cases to indicate the reopening of and adjournment. I don't understand why you wrote "readjourning does not mean starting something" - that hasn't been part of the debate. If anything, it's been stated that to readjourn means to adjourn again (here we go again!). Adjourn signifies a suspensed closure in lieu of a final closure. Thanks for your input.

    My original intent in presenting this to the forum was, and still is, to clarify the gap between the practiced uses of "readjournment" and its dictionary definitions. My use of "school" in adjourning and readjourning was inappropriate as an example, and was not my point, but led to my original question of the difference between given definitions and usage (albeit obscure) of readjourn. I still don't understand how readjourn can be defined at to adjourn again, as it is not used to put something once again in suspension.

    I'm obviously not communicating correctly my intention, but I've appreciated all this input. Thank you all for giving this serious consideration.
  18. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Clearly there are some examples of readjourn being used contrary to logic and to the dictionary definitions.

    In the face of the evidence of use of readjourn that is entirely consistent with logic and with all the dictionary definitions, it is reasonable to put this down to misunderstanding on the part of the minute-writer.
    This is very surprising considering the number of examples available where readjourn is used with precisely that meaning - sometimes in the sequence adjourned, reconvened, and readjourned - and in one notable example, adjourned, unadjourned, and readjourned :)

    Setting this all aside, it is clear that there are reputable organisations whose minutes include this anomaly. There is no pattern to it that would suggest a regular use of readjourn to mean reconvene in any particular context.
  19. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Hi again debfrance,

    I didn't actually mean to imply at all that readjourn was obscure. To my mind, it is a completely understandable word, with the meaning that you found in your dictionaries: "to adjourn again". My Google search was an attempt to find the many examples of "the meeting readjourned" meaning "the meeting reconvened" that you said you had come across. While I understand that you cannot post the actual links, it might have been useful had you given us the number of results you found. As I said, I found only 16 individual examples of "the meeting readjourned" when I did my Google search, and it is entirely conceivable, indeed it is entirely probable, that each one of those examples, no matter how exhalted the author, is using readjourned incorrectly.

    Anyway, I do hope you find your answer soon. :)
  20. debfrance Member

    southeastern France
    English - USA
    I thank you all for this learning experience - I am wiser for having consulted the oracle! Not that I have been using the cursed readjourn on a regular basis... I consulted two wisemen outside the forum (one, an advertising exec and the other Paul Brians, the author of a book on common errors of English language, and they both confirmed everything that's been written here by all of you. As an anecdote, according to Mr. Brians, readjourn has no place in his book Common Errors in English. How chastening.

    Again, I sincerely thank you all for having taken the time and maintaining patience with a word I really did not understand until now. The subject drove me to distraction all day long, by the way. -Deb B Biot, France

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