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

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 Despite months of pleading, the bank insisted the passenger owed the money and only relented after being contacted by a reporter. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 May 2022 Four days after the response was filed, the Chronicle published its article, giving ample weight to each side and quoting from the university’s pleading. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 Whatever the case, after years of pleading, TCT got the go-ahead to create an original adaptation of the show. David Lyman, The Enquirer, 25 Mar. 2022 Charlotte could read the desperate pleading in Marlene’s eyes, fixed on her now, from behind the dark lenses. Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 All the pleading to Mar-a-Lago was getting a little embarrassing. New York Times, 2 Feb. 2022 But Black, a judge in Cincinnati, dismissed the pleading on Tuesday, claiming that Borges’ attempt is speculative. John Caniglia, cleveland, 26 Jan. 2022 The Wachowskis had every reason not to make another Matrix movie, despite some fierce pleading from Warner Bros. to make one happen over the past two decades. Ew Staff,, 22 Dec. 2021 The migrants keep coming despite the vocal pleading of Biden officials because migrants perceive the benefits are worth the risk. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 18 July 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of pleading

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About pleading

Time Traveler for pleading

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for pleading

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pleading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

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

More Definitions for pleading



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on pleading

Nglish: Translation of pleading for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pleading for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pleading


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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