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plebiscite

[pleb-uh-sahyt, -sit] /ˈplɛb əˌsaɪt, -sɪt/
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
1525-1535
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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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for plebiscites

plebiscite

/ˈplɛbɪˌsaɪt; -sɪt/
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 Forms
plebiscitary (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
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Word Origin and History for plebiscites

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
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plebiscites 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 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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