plead

verb
\ ˈplēd \
pleaded\ ˈplē-​dəd \ or pled also plead\ ˈpled \; pleading

Definition of plead

intransitive verb

1 : to argue a case or cause in a court of law
2a : 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
3 : to make a plea of a specified nature plead not guilty
4a : to argue for or against a claim
b : to entreat or appeal earnestly

transitive verb

1 : to maintain (a case, a cause, etc.) in a court of law or other tribunal
2 : to allege in or by way of a legal plea
3 : to offer as a plea usually in defense, apology, or excuse

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Other Words from plead

pleadable \ ˈplē-​də-​bəl \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē \ adverb

Pleaded vs. Pled

Plead belongs to the same class of verbs as bleed, lead, and feed, and like them it has a past and past participle with a short vowel spelled pled (or sometimes plead, which is pronounced alike). From the beginning, pled has faced competition from the regular form pleaded, which eventually came to predominate in mainstream British English. Pled was and is used in Scottish English, which is likely how it came to American English. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pled was attacked by many American usage commentators (perhaps because it was not in good British use). Though still sometimes criticized, it is fully respectable today and both pled (or plead) and pleaded are in good use in the U.S. In legal use (such as “pleaded guilty,” “pled guilty”), both forms are standard, though pleaded is used with greater frequency. In nonlegal use (such as “pleaded for help”), pleaded appears more commonly, though pled is also considered standard.

Examples of plead in a Sentence

He begged and pleaded, but she would not change her mind. She couldn't afford a lawyer to plead her case. “How do you plead?” asked the judge. “We plead guilty, Your Honor.” He agreed to plead to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ibrahim Abbas was sentenced last month to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring in preparation of a terrorist attack involving explosives and knives at Federation Square, a popular downtown restaurant and entertainment precinct. Rod Mcguirk, The Seattle Times, "3 men charged with planning mass killing in Australian city," 19 Nov. 2018 Nassar is serving an effective life sentence after pleading guilty. Jessica Taylor Price, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Olympics Committee Moves to Decertify USA Gymnastics," 6 Nov. 2018 Case in point: last year, Daniel Crowninshield of Sacramento, California was sentenced to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to this crime. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "3D-printed (and CNC-milled) guns: Nine questions you were too afraid to ask," 5 Aug. 2018 Online court records indicate Seay was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of second-degree burglary, second-degree domestic assault, tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Man ‘running naked’ broke into a home, Missouri cops say, and then he tried again," 12 July 2018 She was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to money laundering. James Rufus Koren, latimes.com, "'Bitcoin Maven' sentenced to a year in prison for money laundering," 10 July 2018 Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. NBC News, "Death of Anthony Avalos has parallels to another child abuse case in L.A.," 8 July 2018 The 47-year-old Gignac, locked up in a Miami detention center since November, is now awaiting sentencing next month after pleading guilty to impersonating a foreign government official, identity theft and fraud. Jay Weaver, miamiherald, "Fake sultan's scam of a Miami billionaire fizzled after reckless Ferrari drive, pork meals," 6 July 2018 Jenkins, the task force supervisor, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, "Federal prosecutors seek release of admitted drug dealer in more Gun Trace Task Force fallout," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plead.' 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 plead

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for plead

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

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Statistics for plead

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plead

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

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More Definitions for plead

plead

verb

English Language Learners 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

plead

verb
\ ˈplēd \
pleaded or pled\ ˈpled \; pleading

Kids Definition of plead

1 : to ask for in a serious and emotional way : beg I pleaded for help.
2 : to offer as a defense, an excuse, or an apology To avoid going, I'll plead illness.
3 : to argue for or against : argue in court His lawyer will plead the case before a jury.
4 : to answer to a criminal charge They all plead not guilty.

plead

verb
\ ˈplēd \
pleaded or pled also plead\ ˈpled \; pleading

Legal Definition of plead

intransitive verb

1 : to make an allegation in an action or other legal proceeding especially : to answer the pleading or charge of the other party by denying facts therein stated or by alleging new facts the defendant shall be given a copy of the indictment or information before the defendant is called upon to plead Kansas Statutes Annotated — see also alternative
2 : to make a specific plea plead not guilty also : to make a plea of guilty agreed to plead to the lesser charge

transitive verb

1 : to allege in or by way of a pleading : state in a pleading unless plaintiff pleads and proves facts showing actual malice, he cannot recover punitive damagesKumaran v. Brotman, 617 N.E.2d 191 (1993) plead a case of fraudulent conveyance
2 : to offer as an excuse cannot plead ignorance of the law

Other Words from plead

pleadable adjective
pleader noun

History and Etymology for plead

Anglo-French plaider to argue in a court of law, from Old French plaid legal action, trial — more at plea

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More from Merriam-Webster on plead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plead

Spanish Central: Translation of plead

Nglish: Translation of plead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plead for Arabic Speakers

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