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

Investigators included photos of migrants holding handmade signs to cell windows detailing how long they had been held and pleading for help. Molly Hennessy-fiske, latimes.com, "Why are migrants getting sick or dying on the border?," 8 July 2019 Both men — who have not been publicly named — have been released on bail, but Norman is pleading for more information in the case. Greg Hanlon, PEOPLE.com, "8-Months-Pregnant Mom Is Fatally Stabbed, and Baby Delivered by Paramedics Dies Days Later," 3 July 2019 The report also included images of migrants pressing notes to cell windows pleading for help. New York Times, "Trump Says Migrants Are ‘Living Far Better’ in Overcrowded Border Facilities," 3 July 2019 Her friends and family continue to plead for her safe return. CBS News, "Ammunition found at home in search for missing Utah student as investigation moves "very fast"," 28 June 2019 In recent years, corporations have pleaded for new truckers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking. Take a ride along the Punjabi American highway," 27 June 2019 Portland’s Gypsy Joker president Mark Leroy Dencklau ordered the attack on Huggins and others helped, according to another co-defendant, Tiler Evan Pribbernow, who has cooperated with the government and also pleaded guilty to racketeering. oregonlive.com, "Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club member pleads guilty to racketeering conspiracy," 27 June 2019 For her leadership role in D.O.S., Salzman pled guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "NXIVM Sex Cult Leader Found Guilty On Charges Of Sex Trafficking, Child Pornography & More," 20 June 2019 Rosales' widow on Monday pleaded with Desimone for answers. Anchorage Daily News, "Former Arizona lawmaker sentenced for Southeast Alaska killing," 17 June 2019

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

11 Jul 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 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 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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