\ˈplē \

Definition of plea 

1 : a legal suit or action

2 : an allegation made by a party in support of a cause: such as

a : an allegation of fact — compare demurrer entry 1

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

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of plea in a Sentence

We are making a plea to all companies to stop polluting the environment. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty.

Recent Examples on the Web

Crowley did not enter a plea during the court hearing. Matt Volz, The Seattle Times, "Officers describe faint whimper, finding abandoned infant," 10 July 2018 Defendants have 30 days to enter a plea in a civil matter in Connecticut after the answer date (April 10) of the original complaint, which was filed Feb. 14. Neil Vigdor,, "Susan Bysiewicz Unresponsive To GOP Lawsuit, Found In Default By Court Clerk," 9 July 2018 Wojciechowski, 45, of Cudahy, entered the plea on Wednesday, June 20. Darryl Enriquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Cudahy weightlifting coach pleads guilty to sharing nude photos with student, could face prison," 21 June 2018 Judge Sara Welch granted the waiver and the defense entered a plea of not guilty. Hana Muslic, kansascity, "At hearing for OP man accused of killing wife, man testifies he was defendant’s lover," 19 June 2018 He was violated again in August 2013 for failing to make restitution payments, records show, but released after entering a plea. Jeff Weiner,, "Children killed in Orlando standoff: Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. had history of violence, arrests," 12 June 2018 DeAngelo, has appeared in court twice, but has not entered a plea to the murder charges of the Maggiores. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "DNA that led to Golden State Killer suspect's arrest was collected from his car while he shopped," 2 June 2018 He was not required to enter a plea because he was arrested on a criminal complaint, rather than an indictment. Author: Benjamin Mueller, Alan Feuer, Anchorage Daily News, "Charged with rape, Weinstein posts $1 million bail and surrenders passport," 25 May 2018 The plea deal helped him avoid a more severe sentence. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Former Navajo Nation police officer sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatal DUI crash," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of plea

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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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Learn More about plea

Dictionary Entries near plea





plea bargaining



Phrases Related to plea

insanity plea

Statistics for plea

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plea

The first known use of plea was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for plea



English Language Learners 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


\ˈplē \

Kids Definition of plea

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

2 : something offered as a defense or excuse


\ˈplē \

Legal Definition of plea 

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

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

2a : an accused party's answer to a criminal charge or indictment

b : a plea of guilty

3 : an earnest entreaty

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Comments on plea

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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