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noun \ˈplē\

Simple Definition of plea

  • : a serious and emotional request for something

  • law : a statement in which a person who has been accused of a crime says in court that he or she is guilty or not guilty of the crime

  • : a statement in which a person says that he or she is guilty of a particular crime : a plea of guilty

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of plea

  1. 1 :  a legal suit or action

  2. 2 :  an allegation made by a party in support of a cause: as a :  an allegation of fact — compare demurrer b (1) :  a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's declaration in common-law practice (2) :  an accused person's answer to a charge or indictment in criminal practice c :  a plea of guilty to an indictment

  3. 3 :  something offered by way of excuse or justification <left early with the plea of a headache>

  4. 4 :  an earnest entreaty :  appeal <their plea for understanding must be answered>

Examples of plea in a sentence

  1. We are making a plea to all companies to stop polluting the environment.

  2. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty.

Origin and Etymology of plea

Middle English ple, plede, from Anglo-French plai, pleit from Medieval Latin placitum, from Latin, decision, decree, from neuter of placitus, past participle of placēre to please, be decided — more at please

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of plea

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense. apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances <said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could>. apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position <his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy>. excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure <used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting>. plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy <her usual plea that she was nearsighted>. pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation <used any pretext to get out of work>. alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation <his alibi failed to stand scrutiny>.

PLEA Defined for Kids


noun \ˈplē\

Definition of plea for Students

  1. 1 :  an earnest appeal <The prisoner made a plea for mercy.>

  2. 2 :  something offered as a defense or excuse

Law Dictionary


noun \ˈplē\

Legal Definition of plea

  1. 1a :  an allegation of fact in civil litigation made in response to a claim — compare demurrer b :  a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's claim in civil litigation Editor's note: Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in states where they have been adopted, civil pleas are abolished, and answers and motions are used instead. Such pleas were used at common law. dilatory plea \ˈdi-lə-ˌtōr-ē-\ :  a common-law plea which is intended to defeat the pending action or proceeding without involving any decision on the merits of the case plea in abatement :  a plea entered by a party seeking postponement or dismissal of an action by setting forth some matter or defect regarding procedure, jurisdiction, or timing —called also plea of abatement plea in bar :  a plea that alleges the existence of an absolute bar (as a statute of limitations) to an action plea of abatement :  plea in abatement in this entry

  2. 2a :  an accused party's answer to a criminal charge or indictment b :  a plea of guilty

  3. 3 :  an earnest entreaty

Origin and Etymology of plea

Anglo-French plei plai legal action, trial, from Old French plait plaid, from Medieval Latin placitum, from Latin, decision, decree, from neuter of placitus, past participle of placēre to please, be decided

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