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 In exchange for his testimony at both trials, Wright was allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and will spend 25 years in prison: PROSECUTOR: Mr. Wright, who killed Dr. Sievers? Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Did a Florida man hire a look-alike to kill his wife?," 15 Feb. 2020 Adama said that Wuhan had been on a strict lockdown, and that she’s been using Twitter to plead for help. NBC News, "Social media users document life in China amid coronavirus lockdowns," 31 Jan. 2020 In 2017, the company agreed to plead guilty and pay fines for violating U.S. sanctions on doing business with Iran and North Korea. TheWeek, "Report: Bolton writes in book he was worried Trump did favors for autocratic leaders," 28 Jan. 2020 Likewise, to believe that a storm or flood or other disaster was the work of the gods can help give meaning to an otherwise unfathomable tragedy, and allow people the opportunity to plead for relief. Popular Science, "Real-life climate disasters are mirroring doomsday myths—and that’s worse than you think," 23 Jan. 2020 For too long, prosecutors have used money bail and pretrial incarceration as leverage to pressure people to plead guilty regardless of actual guilt. Evan Sernoffsky, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin ends cash bail for all criminal cases," 22 Jan. 2020 At one point, Jones had appeared willing to plead guilty to lesser charges that would keep her behind bars, but not to murder. Peter Elkind, ProPublica, "Texas Baby-Killer Pleads Guilty to a New Murder," 16 Jan. 2020 Letters poured into Caraway’s Senate office, pleading for relief. Nancy Hendricks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hattie Caraway, the First Woman Elected to the U.S. Senate, Faced a Familiar Struggle With Gender Politics," 6 Jan. 2020 Citations generated by automated devices should be given the same force any other citation generates: fines, points, and the ability to plead your case in court. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Minor parties suppressed; Too expensive to join Broncos’ bandwagon; We need to tame bad drivers; Veteran receives moving welcome home – 50 years later (12/31/19)," 31 Dec. 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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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

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=p&file=plead003. Accessed 21 Feb. 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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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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