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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Last week, a victim’s family member said Almena was expected to plead guilty in a deal that would keep him out of prison and avoid a second trial. Sarah Ravani, SFChronicle.com, "Derick Almena, defendant in deadly Ghost Ship fire, pleads guilty, avoiding a second trial," 22 Jan. 2021 Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa is expected to plead guilty to a charge of reckless driving at a change of plea hearing Monday in Arizona. Lamond Pope, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa expected to plead guilty to reckless driving at Monday’s hearing," 21 Dec. 2020 Authorities said Davis is expected to plead guilty to manslaughter with a 10-year sentence in exchange for his testimony against Hunt. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "New arrest made in 2018 beating death of Walker County man," 5 Nov. 2020 Dennis Williams is expected to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon in the ongoing corruption scandal, but the former UAW president has already resigned from his membership in the union. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Ex-UAW president Dennis Williams resigns from union ahead of expected guilty plea," 30 Sep. 2020 The four expected to plead guilty are California residents Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea, according to The Boston Globe. CBS News, "Ex-eBay workers to plead guilty to sending spiders to Massachusetts bloggers," 23 Sep. 2020 Public health officials continued to plead with residents just hours before the start of 2021 not to gather for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Time, "California's Hospitals Are at the 'Brink of Catastrophe' as the State Passes 25,000 Dead," 1 Jan. 2021 The week before Thanksgiving, health officials fanned out to plead with Americans not to travel over the holiday. Anchorage Daily News, "The inside story of how Trump’s denial, mismanagement and magical thinking led to the pandemic’s dark winter," 20 Dec. 2020 State Health Department officials continue to plead with Minnesotans to limit gatherings to the people in their household. Kevyn Burger Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Despite health officials' advice, some Minnesotans are self-quarantining and planning to gather for Christmas," 13 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for plead

Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on plead

What made you want to look up plead? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

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!