Glossary of terms about the U.S. government

Get definitions of unfamiliar words about the presidency and branches of government.

Annexation: To formally declare a piece of land for a different country, without a treaty or money from a sale

Acquit: To set free from a criminal charge

Bill: A proposed law given to Congress for debate

Checks and balances: A system to ensure that no one branch of government becomes too powerful

Constitution: A document that defines the beliefs and laws of a country

Continental Congress: The assembly of delegates from the 13 colonies who met before, during, and in the years immediately following the Revolutionary War for independence from Britain

Draft: A requirement of military service for young men

Electoral College: The process by which the country elects its president

Executive order: The implied power of the president (not in the Constitution) to give an order with the legal status of a law

Impeach: To charge the president with a crime

Inauguration: The swearing in of a new president who promises to do his or her best for the country, based on the U.S. Constitution

Income tax: A yearly charge based on a person’s salary

Pardon: To officially forgive someone for a crime

Treaty: A formal agreement between nations

Veto: A presidential power used to stop a bill from becoming a law

From the Nat Geo Kids book Weird But True Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont, revised for digital by Laura Goertzel