plead

verb
\ ˈplēd How to pronounce plead (audio) \
pleaded\ ˈplē-​dəd How to pronounce plead (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 plead (audio) \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce plead (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 Separately, one member of the Oath Keepers, who was not alleged to have been part of that conspiracy, on Friday became the first person to plead guilty to participating in the riot. Del Quentin Wilber Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2021 Chauvin was prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder in George Floyd's death before then-Attorney General William Barr personally blocked the plea deal last year. Jonathan Lemire And Michael Balsamo, Star Tribune, 19 Apr. 2021 Local prosecutors allowed the officer to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. New York Times, 14 Apr. 2021 Cox was charged with assault causing a serious injury, a felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison, and allowed to plead guilty to domestic assault, a misdemeanor. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 25 Mar. 2021 In a jurisdiction that has capital punishment, the accused has an incentive to plead guilty to an offense that carries a severe incarceration term, even life-imprisonment, in order to get the death penalty off the table. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 25 Mar. 2021 His lawyers instructed him to plead guilty to all the facts, leaving the judge to determine the crimes. Author: Karen Heller, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Feb. 2021 Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland Township, has cut a deal with prosecutors and is scheduled to plead guilty next week to his alleged role in the foiled plot, according to court records. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, 22 Jan. 2021 Two decades later, one of the women raped that night traveled from her new home in Texas to see Klanavitch and Czosnowski plead guilty. Isabel Seliger, ProPublica, 24 May 2021

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

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on plead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plead

Nglish: Translation of plead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plead for Arabic Speakers

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