Trend Watch


Lookups spiked after Britain voted to exit the European Union

Lookups for referendum spiked after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Despite opinion polls before the referendum that showed either side in a position to win, the outcome nonetheless stunned much of Britain, Europe and the trans-Atlantic alliance….
—Steven Erlanger, The New York Times (Web), 23 June 2016

Referendum (the plural of which is either referenda or referendums) comes from Latin, in which language the word is the neuter of referendus and the gerundive of referre (“to refer”). It appears to have entered English approximately 200 years ago, as our earliest known citation dates from the summer of 1816.

Eleven votes rejected the demand; nine desired the referendum; two Deputies reserved their votes; so that the decision of the Diet is adjourned till the time when is probably near at hand when these two votes are given.
The Morning Chronicle (London, UK), 3 Aug. 1816

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