plead·​ing | \ ˈplē-diŋ How to pronounce pleading (audio) \

Definition of pleading

1 : advocacy of a cause in a court of law
2a : one of the formal usually written allegations and counter allegations made alternately by the parties in a legal action or proceeding
b : the action or process performed by the parties in presenting such formal allegations until a single point at issue is produced
c : the introduction of one of these allegations and especially the first one
d : the body of rules according to which these allegations are framed
3 : the act or an instance of making a plea
4 : a sincere entreaty

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Examples of pleading in a Sentence

I'm tired of their begging and pleading. Despite our pleadings to be allowed to leave, they kept us there for several more hours.
Recent Examples on the Web The question is who will take up the pro-growth cause in a GOP caucus that is increasingly fond of special-interest pleading and income redistribution. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Pat Toomey’s Market Niche," 5 Oct. 2020 Williams and Burdett filed separate responses to the government’s most recent pleading, in which prosecutors argued that Williams was trying to use his run for office as a shield. John Simerman,, "In Jason Williams tax fraud case, councilman presses vindictive prosecution defense," 25 Sep. 2020 To repetitive pleading, say: ‘It’s not up for discussion. Elizabeth Chang, Anchorage Daily News, "COVID-19 etiquette: A comprehensive guide," 14 Sep. 2020 Even with the coronavirus rules, the party could have continued to collect signatures, attorneys for Padilla argued in an Aug. 19 court pleading. John Wildermuth,, "New party backed by Quentin Kopp, Tom Campbell battles to get on ballot," 2 Sep. 2020 Amanda spent the next five months negotiating — and pleading — with U.S. and Panamanian authorities, desperately trying to bring her daughter home. Caitlin Keating,, "Mom Reunites with 2-Year-Old Daughter 5 Months After Pandemic Separates Them: 'A Miracle'," 27 Aug. 2020 The contrast was striking to last week’s Democratic festival of America-blaming, special-interest pleading, climate-obsessing and identity-politicizing. James Freeman, WSJ, "Tim Scott, Elizabeth Warren and the Opportunity Debate," 25 Aug. 2020 The Court has provided counsel for the United States copies of the pleadings and held a telephone hearing this evening with counsel for the government and the plaintiffs., "Text: Federal judge’s ruling temporarily extends housing program for Hurricane Maria referees," 1 July 2018 Once the records are added to Alabama’s online court system, historians and others will be able to read the original pleadings filed by Parks’s attorneys following her refusal to give her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus on Dec. 1, 1955. Jay Reeves, Washington Post, "Court records of civil rights icons are being digitized," 20 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pleading.' 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 pleading

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for pleading

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The first known use of pleading was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pleading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for pleading


How to pronounce pleading (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pleading

: the act of asking for something in a serious and emotional way
law : one of the formal, usually written statements made by the two sides of a legal case in a court of law



Legal Definition of pleading

1a : one of the formal declarations (as a complaint or answer) exchanged by the parties in a legal proceeding (as a suit) setting forth claims, averments, allegations, denials, or defenses also : a written document embodying such a declaration — see also relation back
b : any of the allegations, averments, claims, denials, or defenses set forth in a pleading
alternative pleading
: a pleading that sets out an alternative theory in support of a plaintiff's claim for relief or a defendant's defense
amended pleading
: a pleading that is filed to replace an original pleading and that contains matters omitted from or not known at the time of the original pleading
responsive pleading \ ri-​ˈspän-​siv-​ \
: a pleading that directly responds to another pleading (as by denying in an answer allegations in a complaint)
sham pleading
: a pleading that is factually false, is not made in good faith, and that may be struck
supplemental pleading
: a pleading that supplements an earlier pleading with matters that have occurred or come into existence since the date of the original pleading
2 : a process or system through which the parties in a legal proceeding present their allegations
code pleading
: pleading (as fact pleading) done in accordance with the rules set down in a code

Note: Code pleading began in 1848 in New York State and was a departure from the complex system of common-law pleading, which included a lengthy set of stages by which a single issue was produced, and which was determined by the type of writ under which the plaintiff proceeded.

fact pleading
: pleading that requires a plaintiff to set out in the complaint facts sufficient to establish a cause of action — compare notice pleading in this entry
notice pleading
: pleading that is characterized especially by a simplified description sufficient to give notice of a claim or defense rather than by a technical account of any facts pertinent to the claim or defense — compare fact pleading in this entry

Note: Notice pleading is allowed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and in a majority of states, although complex cases often require substantial detail in the pleading.

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