plead

verb
\ ˈplēd How to pronounce plead (audio) \
pleaded\ ˈplē-​dəd How to pronounce pleaded (audio) \ or pled also plead\ ˈpled How to pronounce plead (audio) \; 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 How to pronounce pleadable (audio) \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce pleadingly (audio) \ 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 He is expected to plead guilty under a similar deal, the Enquirer reports. NBC News, "Ohio teen pleads guilty in death of woman killed by nearly 75-pound log," 18 Sep. 2020 That typically happens when a defendant in a case is expected to plead guilty. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Ex-Cuyahoga County Jail officer charged in attack on mentally ill inmate, including ‘unauthorized chokehold’," 17 Sep. 2020 Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith is expected to plead guilty to federal obstruction of justice charges for encouraging two of his assistant prosecutors to lie to the FBI. M.l. Elrick, Detroit Free Press, "Feds: Ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith to plead guilty to federal criminal charges," 9 Sep. 2020 There are no guarantees, but the odds are that Bannon will have to plead guilty or be found guilty. Star Tribune, "Let Bannon's indictment be the coda for a corrupt administration," 24 Aug. 2020 Ed was the only member of the gang to plead innocence — or at least ignorance. Paul Brown, Longreads, "How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England," 10 Aug. 2020 Before the pandemic, New York City bus advocates had to plead with City Hall for more dedicated busways. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "New York as a Biking City? It Could Happen. And It Should.," 9 July 2020 The bill also would mandate that agencies fire any cops who plead guilty or are convicted of using inappropriate force, and require the Peace Officer Standards and Training board to decertify them. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Colorado lawmakers introduce sweeping police reform bill," 3 June 2020 So far, of the more than 50 defendants charged in connection with the college admissions scandal, more than 40 have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty, according to the US Attorney's Office. Sonia Moghe, CNN, "Billionaire's son indicted in college admissions cheating scandal," 2 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for plead

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for plead

Last Updated

22 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead. Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for plead

plead

verb
How to pronounce plead (audio)

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 How to pronounce plead (audio) \
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 How to pronounce plead (audio) \
pleaded or pled also plead\ ˈpled How to pronounce plead (audio) \; 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 pleadKansas 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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Comments on plead

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