1525-35; < French < Latinplēbīscītum decree of the plebs, equivalent to plēbī (for plēbis, plēbēī genitive singular of plēbs, plēbēsplebs) + 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
"direct vote of the people," 1860 (originally in ref. to Italian unification), from Fr. plébiscite (1776 in modern sense), from L. plebiscitum "a decree or resolution of the people," from plebs (gen. plebis) "the common people" + scitum "decree," properly neuter pp. of sciscere "to assent, vote for, approve," inchoative of scire "to know" (see science). Used earlier (1533) in a purely Roman historical context.