plead

verb
\ ˈplēd How to pronounce plead (audio) \
pleaded\ ˈplē-​dəd How to pronounce pleaded (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

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Other Words from plead

pleadable \ ˈplē-​də-​bəl How to pronounce pleadable (audio) \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce pleadingly (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In 2013, Godejohn pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct, after police arrested him for allegedly viewing pornography on his laptop at a McDonald’s and touching himself inappropriately. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Is Nicholas Godejohn? Gypsy Blanchard's Boyfriend Plays a Key Role in The Act," 2 May 2019 As the Watertown Daily Times reported, 26-year-old Shane Piche pleaded guilty to third-degree rape. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "A School Bus Driver Raped a 14-Year-Old Girl. He Won’t Spend a Single Day in Prison," 30 Apr. 2019 How the College Admissions Fraud Actually Worked Singer pleaded guilty this week to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges. Tyler Kingkade, Town & Country, "How the College Admissions Scandal Is Different From the Other Ways Rich Parents Help Their Kids Get Into School," 13 Mar. 2019 But the company still pleaded with lawmakers in Ohio and Pennsylvania for financial lifelines that would let the power fleet stay open under new ownership. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "FirstEnergy’s Bankruptcy Deal With Power Units Collapses," 4 Apr. 2019 In the more than seven-minute call, the teen’s mother pleads with the dispatcher for help through sobs. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Florida Teen Trapped in Tree After Alligator Chases Her Out of Water: She's 'Gonna Be Dead!'," 3 July 2018 In March, McFarland, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud related to defrauding investors and a ticket broker with Fyre Festival. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "2 Fyre Festival Attendees Awarded $5 Million in Lawsuit Against Co-Founder," 3 July 2018 In 2014, a Texas hospital employee pleaded guilty to accessing personal health information with the intention of using it for personal gain. Anne M. Murphy, Laura B. Angelini, STAT, "Criminal prosecution for violating HIPAA: an emerging threat to health care professionals," 2 July 2018 His three associates in the conspiracy, including Burkhart's brother, also have pleaded guilty. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Former American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart gets nearly 10 years," 29 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for plead

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plead

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on plead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plead

Spanish Central: Translation of plead

Nglish: Translation of plead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plead for Arabic Speakers

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