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The word referendum is often used in politics, though the plural form of referendum can be confusing. We will examine the definition of referendum, the correct plural form, where the word came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A referendum is a question or proposal that is submitted to the electorate for a direct vote. A referendum may be used to find out the will of the electorate without making the vote binding, or it may be a binding decision. Referendums are usually submitted to the voters when it is legally necessary to obtain the permission of the electorate in order to proceed in a certain direction. Often, pundits and reporters consider the election of certain people or the passing of certain questions on ballots as a symbolic referendum, or a window into the needs and wants currently influencing voters. The word referendum is derived from the Latin word referendum, which means what must be referred. Some believe that the plural form is referenda, following the Latin rules of pluralization. This is incorrect. Referendum is now considered an English word and follows the English rules of pluralization, simply adding an s to form the plural as in referendums.


Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a referendum question asking if they wanted to impose a district election system on the city, but a state senator pushing the move says the vote was “a sham.” (The Asheville Citizen-Times)

The Republican Party’s defeat in the Virginia election was a “referendum” on President Trump’s administration, Republican congressman Scott Taylor has said. (The Independent)

Nonrecurring referendums to exceed the state-imposed revenue cap previously approved by voters in the Wheatland Center School and Randall School districts will expire this year. (The Kenosha News)