pleb·​i·​scite | \ ˈple-bə-ˌsīt How to pronounce plebiscite (audio) , -sət also -ˌsēt \

Definition of plebiscite

: a vote by which the people of an entire country or district express an opinion for or against a proposal especially on a choice of government or ruler

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from plebiscite

plebiscitary \ ple-​ˈbi-​sə-​ˌter-​ē How to pronounce plebiscite (audio) , pli-​ ; ˌple-​bə-​ˈsī-​tə-​rē \ adjective

Examples of plebiscite in a Sentence

They are going to hold a plebiscite on the question of national independence. The issue will be decided by plebiscite.
Recent Examples on the Web With about 55% voter turnout, 52.34% of Puerto Ricans voted yes to statehood in a November 2020 plebiscite, according to Puerto Rico’s Elections Commission. Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY, "The decades-long debates surrounding D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam statehood have been reignited. What's the best option?," 1 May 2021 In the last plebiscite, conducted on Nov. 3, 2020, 52% of residents voted for statehood, while 47% of residents voted against it. Cristina Corujo, ABC News, "What to know about Puerto Rico's divide over its territorial status," 27 Apr. 2021 Bumpy could be a British understatement describing the four years since voters surprised pollsters and politicians by passing the plebiscite by a narrow margin. Star Tribune, "A difficult but not 'hard' Brexit deal," 29 Dec. 2020 Such deep disaffection won't show up at sham elections like the 2018 presidential plebiscite, especially since Navalny and other opposition figures weren't allowed to run. Star Tribune, "Keep the heat on Putin to free Alexei Navalny," 25 Jan. 2021 Like that first ballot, a second plebiscite in 2016 was technically nonbinding but politically beyond challenge. New York Times, "The Brexit Fight, Through a Reporter’s Prism of a Changed Continent," 26 Dec. 2020 In keeping with a long leftist tradition, the Democrats treated the elections like a plebiscite against Trump. Itxu Díaz, National Review, "The Left Turn That Never Came," 7 Nov. 2020 For most of its existence, California’s system of direct democracy was little more than a biannual plebiscite to ensure that average voters had the power to get around the moneyed interests that dominate the political process in Sacramento. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Politics: Prepping for the final 79 days of the 2020 election," 2 Nov. 2020 For many Chileans, Piñera, a businessman, represents free-market principles that were embodied in the old constitution that took effect in 1981 under military ruler Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after a plebiscite in 1980. Star Tribune, "Eager for change, Chile faces long road to new constitution," 27 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plebiscite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of plebiscite

1860, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for plebiscite

Latin plebis scitum law voted by the comitia, literally, decree of the common people

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about plebiscite

Time Traveler for plebiscite

Time Traveler

The first known use of plebiscite was in 1860

See more words from the same year

Statistics for plebiscite

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plebiscite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for plebiscite



English Language Learners Definition of plebiscite

: a vote by which the people of a country or region express their opinion for or against an important proposal

More from Merriam-Webster on plebiscite

Nglish: Translation of plebiscite for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about plebiscite

Comments on plebiscite

What made you want to look up plebiscite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!