plebiscite

[pleb-uh-sahyt, -sit]
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:
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

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World English Dictionary
plebiscite (ˈplɛbɪˌsaɪt, -sɪt)
 
n
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
 
[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]
 
plebiscitary
 
adj

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

plebiscite
"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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The plebiscite is scheduled to occur on the same day as a referendum on
  southern secession.
All the more reason to wonder whether this election can be construed as a
  national plebiscite on net neutrality.
What annoys governments about stateless money is that it functions as a
  plebiscite on your policy.
Team owners must view the response as a dandy plebiscite on their channel.
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