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plebiscite

[pleb-uh-sahyt, -sit]
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noun
  1. a direct vote of the qualified voters of a state in regard to some important public question.
  2. the vote by which the people of a political unit determine autonomy or affiliation with another country.

Origin of plebiscite

1525–35; < French < Latin plēbīscītum decree of the plebs, equivalent to plēbī (for plēbis, plēbēī genitive singular of plēbs, plēbēs plebs) + scītum resolution, decree, noun use of neuter of scītus, past participle of scīscere to enact, decree, orig., to seek to know, learn, inchoative of scīre to know
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plebiscite

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • When there's no time for a plebiscite, there's always time for a pistol.'

    Lord Kilgobbin

    Charles Lever

  • Sure enough, there came the émeute of the plebiscite, as he had predicted, but it was suppressed.

    Memoirs

    Charles Godfrey Leland

  • The formality of a plebiscite was accomplished by November 21.

  • Is there a single intelligent Liberal who is not against that plebiscite?

    The Parisians, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Let the emeute be within, say a week, after the vote of the plebiscite is taken.

    The Parisians, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton


British Dictionary definitions for plebiscite

plebiscite

noun
  1. a direct vote by the electorate of a state, region, etc, on some question of usually national importance, such as union with another state or acceptance of a government programme
  2. any expression or determination of public opinion on some matter
See also referendum
Derived Formsplebiscitary (pləˈbɪsɪtərɪ), adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Old French plēbiscite, from Latin plēbiscītum decree of the people, from plēbs the populace + scītum, from scīscere to decree, approve, from scīre to know
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for plebiscite

n.

"direct vote of the people," 1860 (originally in reference to Italian unification), from French plébiscite (1776 in modern sense, originally with reference to Switzerland), from Latin plebiscitum "a decree or resolution of the people," from plebs (genitive plebis) "the common people" (see plebeian (adj.)) + scitum "decree," noun use of neuter past participle of sciscere "to assent, vote for, approve," inchoative of scire "to know" (see science). Used earlier (1530s) in a purely Roman historical context. Related: Plebiscitary.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

plebiscite in Culture

plebiscite

[(pleb-uh-seyet, pleb-uh-suht)]

A vote of an entire nation or other large political unit on an issue of great importance. A plebiscite is not an election, for there are no candidates. Rather, people vote yes or no on a proposition.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.