referendum

noun
ref·​er·​en·​dum | \ ˌre-fə-ˈren-dəm How to pronounce referendum (audio) \
plural referenda\ ˌre-​fə-​ˈren-​də How to pronounce referendum (audio) \ or referendums

Definition of referendum

1a : the principle or practice of submitting to popular vote a measure passed on or proposed by a legislative body or by popular initiative
b : a vote on a measure so submitted
2 : a diplomatic agent's note asking for government instructions

Did you know?

Referendum is a Latin word, but its modern meaning only dates from the 19th century, when a new constitution adopted by Switzerland stated that the voters could vote directly on certain issues. Thus, a referendum is a measure that's referred (that is, sent on) to the people. Since the U.S. Constitution doesn't provide for referenda (notice the common plural form) at the national level, referenda tend to be on local and state issues. In most locales, a few questions usually appear on the ballot at election time, often involving such issues as new zoning ordinances, new taxes for schools, and new limits on spending.

Examples of referendum in a Sentence

The issue was decided by referendum.
Recent Examples on the Web Abe had championed during his nearly nine years in power and one that would require a two-thirds majority vote of both houses of parliament, followed by a popular referendum. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 12 July 2022 Revision of the constitution would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Parliament followed by a popular referendum. Peter Landers, WSJ, 10 July 2022 Britain, too, is deeply divided, as evidenced by the close-run 2016 referendum to end the country’s decadeslong membership in the European Union. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 June 2022 In 2016, one year after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California passed a suite of gun control regulations by referendum, including background checks for ammunition purchases and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2022 But yesterday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will not accept a Ukrainian demand that a possible peace deal include an immediate pullout of Russian troops followed by a Ukrainian referendum on that agreement. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2022 According to those results, 59.49% of voters voted in favor of the referendum, which increases annual property taxes $33 for every $100,000 a property is worth. Chicago Tribune, 30 June 2022 Still, to call Tuesday’s Republican primary a referendum on the future of Trumpism — in Ohio and beyond — would go too far. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2022 Kherson: Both Ukrainian and Western officials have recently warned that Russian forces may stage a referendum in the southern city of Kherson — the first major city Moscow occupied — to help justify their invasion. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of referendum

1847, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for referendum

New Latin, from Latin, neuter of referendus, gerundive of referre to refer

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Time Traveler for referendum

Time Traveler

The first known use of referendum was in 1847

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Dictionary Entries Near referendum

referendary

referendum

referent

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Statistics for referendum

Last Updated

24 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Referendum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/referendum. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for referendum

referendum

noun
ref·​er·​en·​dum | \ ˌre-fə-ˈren-dəm How to pronounce referendum (audio) \
plural referenda\ -​də \ or referendums

Kids Definition of referendum

: the practice of voting on an issue

referendum

noun
ref·​er·​en·​dum | \ ˌrə-fə-ˈren-dəm How to pronounce referendum (audio) \
plural referenda\ -​də How to pronounce referendum (audio) \ or referendums

Legal Definition of referendum

: the submission to popular vote of a measure passed on or proposed by a legislative body or by popular initiative also : the popular vote on a measure so submitted

History and Etymology for referendum

New Latin, from Latin, neuter of referendus, gerundive of referre to refer

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