Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a direct popular vote.
  • n. Such a vote.
  • n. A note from a diplomat to the diplomat's government requesting instructions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A direct popular vote on a proposed law or constitutional amendment
  • n. A note from a diplomat to his government requesting instructions

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A diplomatic agent's note asking for instructions from his government concerning a particular matter or point.
  • n. The right to approve or reject by popular vote a meassure passed upon by a legislature.
  • n. The principle or practice of referring measures passed upon by the legislative body to the body of voters, or electorate, for approval or rejection, as in the Swiss cantons (except Freiburg) and in various local governments in the United States, and also in the local option laws, etc.; also, the right to so approve or reject laws, or the vote by which this is done. Referendum is distinguished from the mandate, or instruction of representatives by the people, from direct government by the people, in which they initiate and make the laws by direct action without representation, and from a plebiscite, or popular vote taken on any measure proposed by a person or body having the initiative but not constituting a representative or constituent body.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A note from a diplomatic agent addressed to his government, asking for instructions on particular matters.
  • n. In Switzerland, the right of the people to decide on certain laws or measures which have been passed by the legislative body.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a legislative act is referred for final approval to a popular vote by the electorate

Etymologies

Latin, neuter gerundive of referre, to refer; see refer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin referendum, from refero ("I announce"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He says the referendum is a chance to return Niger to normal constitutional life.

    Voters in Niger Head to Polls

  • Professor Alou says this referendum is about more than the next president.

    Niger Begins Campaign for Constitutional Referendum

  • Mr. Li said the referendum is their internal affair and we are not getting into it.

    China Courts Secessionists in Sudan, Breaking a Mold

  • The real reason, of course, why the government does not want to hold a referendum is the fear that it may lose ...

    Archive 2008-02-01

  • “The real reason, of course, why the government does not want to hold a referendum is the fear that it may lose.”

    Archive 2008-01-20

  • The present official Labour position on the referendum is an open goal begging to have lots of balls slotted firmly into the net and one could be forgiven for thinking that there would be Tories, not just backbenchers or the likes of Michael Gove, jostling for position in front of the goal ready to take undefended penalties.

    Archive 2007-09-02

  • What we will need to put pressure on the Liberals to accede to the referendum is as much moral pressure as possible - in short, every single vote for the SNP will count.

    The latest poll

  • This referendum is a safeguard for the people since there is no guarantee that the Territorial Assembly members will reflect the true sentiments of the people on such a crucial issue.

    José Ramos-Horta - Nobel Lecture

  • We need to be very clear about what this referendum is about.

    Reorganising Government: An Option Other Than Separation or Status Quo

  • The advantage of a 'referendum' is that when it loses, then the Times and P-I immediately demonize talk radio and the blogs and Tim Eyman - NOT the elites that framed the referendum to start with.

    Sound Politics: Gregoire abdicates

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