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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web At one point, Gabriella said, her general practitioner even called to plead with her. Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2022 McCarthy called Trump on the day of the insurrection to plead with the former president to intervene in the violence to no avail, according to multiple witnesses. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, 29 July 2022 At one point, according to testimony, Ivanka Trump went to her father to plead with him personally when those around him had failed to get through. Farnoush Amiri And Mary Clare Jalonick, Anchorage Daily News, 19 July 2022 That lasted about 15 seconds before our kids plead with her to flip the lights back on. Mike And Wendy Pramik, cleveland, 7 July 2022 Countless power users took to the replies to plead with Twitter to change its plans. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 30 June 2022 The White House announced at the first of June that President Joe Biden would travel to Saudi Arabia to try to rebuild fractured relations there and plead with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for more oil production. David Blackmon, Forbes, 9 June 2022 On Wednesday, an LSU fan snuck into the building to plead with Saban to end his role in Alabama’s dynasty. Nick Alvarez | Nalvarez@al.com, al, 2 June 2022 The parents lobbied for years for the U.S. to negotiate for their son's release, going as far as to personally plead with President Joe Biden to act. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About plead

Time Traveler for plead

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near plead

pleach

plead

plead ignorance

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for plead

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for plead

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

Nglish: Translation of plead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plead for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!