plead·​ing ˈplē-diŋ How to pronounce pleading (audio)
: advocacy of a cause in a court of law
: one of the formal usually written allegations and counter allegations made alternately by the parties in a legal action or proceeding
: the action or process performed by the parties in presenting such formal allegations until a single point at issue is produced
: the introduction of one of these allegations and especially the first one
: the body of rules according to which these allegations are framed
: the act or an instance of making a plea
: 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 Nearly all of the defendants have hired their own teams of lawyers who will file separate pleadings and generate a busy court calendar of hearings. Holly Bailey, Amy Gardner and Marisa Iati, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Aug. 2023 As the meeting careened out of control, McDowell famously stepped on stage, against her mother’s pleadings, and took the microphone to out herself as the student who felt unjustly treated by Podl. Steven Litt, cleveland, 18 Aug. 2023 Neither my pleading nor Brown’s death could stir the government to action. IEEE Spectrum, 30 July 2023 Securities fraud cases have a very high pleading standard, Sale said, which means the plaintiff has to be very specific about their allegations to overcome a motion to dismiss. Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 16 Aug. 2023 When the pleadings do not resolve all factual issues, judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate. Ron Wood, Arkansas Online, 17 Mar. 2023 Among them are ineffectual, ingratiating letters to his ex-wife, Janet, and letters of recommendation for students, past and present, some pleading, some exasperated, some involving completing online forms — one of Fitger’s many bêtes noires. Katherine A. Powers, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2023 Covington tried so many legal maneuvers after his conviction that a Strafford County Superior Court judge issued an order in 2006 to excuse the attorney general’s office from having to file a substantive response to any of his future pleadings, unless specifically directed to do so by the court. Steven Porter,, 2 Aug. 2023 That brief pleading and the request for a change of venue came among a host of motions filed by Mosby’s defense. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 30 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pleading.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English plaiding, pledynge "arguing, contention, legal dispute," from plaiden, pleden "to contend legally, argue in court, plead" + -ing, -ynge -ing entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near pleading

Cite this Entry

“Pleading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Legal Definition


: 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
: 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
: 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

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