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 Franklin Price, who practiced internal medicine and specialized in hematology and medical oncology, pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information, a misdemeanor. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Mayfield doctor agrees to cooperate with feds in probe into neurological drug’s marketing," 20 Jan. 2020 Collins, one of Trump’s first supporters for president, resigned from his congressional seat Sept. 30 and pleaded guilty the next day to securities fraud. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Healthcare: A look at US health disparities on MLK Day 2020," 20 Jan. 2020 Former nurse Genene Jones, suspected for decades of killing more than a dozen children but tried and convicted for only one, pleaded guilty Thursday in San Antonio to the murder of an 11-month-old boy in 1981 and was sentenced to life in prison. Peter Elkind, ProPublica, "Texas Baby-Killer Pleads Guilty to a New Murder," 16 Jan. 2020 Avenatti no longer represents Daniels and has pleaded not guilty. NBC News, "Attorney Michael Avenatti arrested by IRS on allegation of violating release conditions," 15 Jan. 2020 Flynn is one of a half-dozen former aides and allies of President Donald Trump who were convicted or pleaded guilty as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Michael Flynn withdraws guilty plea, accuses prosecutors of acting in 'bad faith'," 15 Jan. 2020 In total, 53 people have been charged in the case and thirty people have already pled guilty, with the rest going to trial. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "Lori Loughlin Accused Of Withholding Evidence Before Her Trial," 15 Jan. 2020 Last June, Husel was charged with murder in 25 deaths and pleaded not guilty in one of the biggest cases of its kind ever brought against a U.S. health care professional. Washington Post, "Amid doc’s murder case, lawsuits reflect battle over blame," 14 Jan. 2020 Mayes, whose name was then Britney Roll, pleaded guilty in February of that year to a child endangerment charge and was sentenced to six months in prison. Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati.com, "Judge to mom who killed her 4-year-old daughter: 'I hope they never let you out'," 13 Jan. 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

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pleaded. Accessed 24 January 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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