Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈplēd\

Simple Definition of plead

  • : to ask for something in a serious and emotional way

  • : to try to prove (a case) in a court of law

  • : to say in court that you are either guilty or not guilty of a crime : to make a plea

Full Definition of plead

plead·ed play \ˈplē-dəd\ or pled also plead play \ˈpled\ plead·ing

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to argue a case or cause in a court of law

  3. 2 a :  to make an allegation in an action or other legal proceeding; especially :  to answer the previous pleading of the other party by denying facts therein stated or by alleging new facts b :  to conduct pleadings

  4. 3 :  to make a plea of a specified nature <plead not guilty>

  5. 4 a :  to argue for or against a claim b :  to entreat or appeal earnestly

  6. transitive verb
  7. 1 :  to maintain (as a case or cause) in a court of law or other tribunal

  8. 2 :  to allege in or by way of a legal plea

  9. 3 :  to offer as a plea usually in defense, apology, or excuse

plead·able play \ˈplē-də-bəl\ adjective
plead·er noun
plead·ing·ly play \ˈplē-diŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of plead

  1. He begged and pleaded, but she would not change her mind.

  2. She couldn't afford a lawyer to plead her case.

  3. How do you plead? asked the judge.

  4. We plead guilty, Your Honor.

  5. He agreed to plead to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Origin of plead

Middle English pleden, plaiden, from Anglo-French plaider, pleder, from plai plea

First Known Use: 13th century

PLEAD Defined for Kids


verb \ˈplēd\

Definition of plead

plead·ed or pled \ˈpled\plead·ing

  1. 1 :  to ask for in a serious and emotional way :  beg <I pleaded for help.>

  2. 2 :  to offer as a defense, an excuse, or an apology <To avoid going, I'll plead illness.>

  3. 3 :  to argue for or against :  argue in court <His lawyer will plead the case before a jury.>

  4. 4 :  to answer to a criminal charge <They all plead not guilty.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up plead? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders spindrift duvet pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.