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plebiscite (PLEB-i-syte) noun

1. A direct vote in which the entire electorate is invited to accept or refuse a proposal.

2. A vote in which a population exercises the right of national self-determination.

[French plebiscite, from Latin plebiscitum : plebis, genitive of plebs, the people + scitum, decree, from neuter past participle of sciscere, to vote for, inchoative of scire, to know.]

"Let the president, once a year, frame a piece of legislation and put it before the entire nation. The mere threat of a plebiscite pitting the majority against one or two special interests would make all special interests more amenable to reason." Mickey Kaus, Don't blame our sick democracy on high technology, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 17 Feb 1995.

plebiscite, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign. [From The Devil's Dictionary]

This week's theme: Words from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.


The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it. -Axel Munthe

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