plea

noun \ ˈplē \

Definition of plea

1 :a legal suit or action
2 :an allegation made by a party in support of a cause: such as
a :an allegation of fact — compare demurrer
b (1) :a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's declaration in common-law practice
(2) :an accused person's answer to a charge or indictment in criminal practice
c :a plea of guilty to an indictment
3 :something offered by way of excuse or justification
  • left early with the plea of a headache
4 :an earnest entreaty :appeal
  • their plea for understanding must be answered

Examples of plea in a Sentence

  1. We are making a plea to all companies to stop polluting the environment.

  2. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty.

Recent Examples of plea from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of plea

Middle English ple, plede, from Anglo-French plai, pleit from Medieval Latin placitum, from Latin, decision, decree, from neuter of placitus, past participle of placēre to please, be decided — more at please

Synonym Discussion of plea

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense. apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances.
    • said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could
apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position.
    • his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy
excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure.
    • used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting
plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy.
    • her usual plea that she was nearsighted
pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation.
    • used any pretext to get out of work
alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation.
    • his alibi failed to stand scrutiny


PLEA Defined for English Language Learners

plea

noun

Definition of plea for English Language Learners

  • : a serious and emotional request for something

  • law : a statement in which a person who has been accused of a crime says in court that he or she is guilty or not guilty of the crime

  • : a statement in which a person says that he or she is guilty of a particular crime : a plea of guilty


PLEA Defined for Kids

plea

noun \ ˈplē \

Definition of plea for Students

1 :an earnest appeal
  • The prisoner made a plea for mercy.
2 :something offered as a defense or excuse

Law Dictionary

plea

noun \ ˈplē \

legal Definition of plea

1 a :an allegation of fact in civil litigation made in response to a claim — compare demurrer
b :a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's claim in civil litigation
Note: Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in states where they have been adopted, civil pleas are abolished, and answers and motions are used instead. Such pleas were used at common law.
dilatory plea \ˈdi-lə-ˌtōr-ē-\
:a common-law plea which is intended to defeat the pending action or proceeding without involving any decision on the merits of the case
plea in abatement
:a plea entered by a party seeking postponement or dismissal of an action by setting forth some matter or defect regarding procedure, jurisdiction, or timing called also plea of abatement
plea in bar
:a plea that alleges the existence of an absolute bar (as a statute of limitations) to an action
plea of abatement
:plea in abatement in this entry
2 a :an accused party's answer to a criminal charge or indictment
b :a plea of guilty
3 :an earnest entreaty

Origin and Etymology of plea

Anglo-French plei plai legal action, trial, from Old French plait plaid, from Medieval Latin placitum, from Latin, decision, decree, from neuter of placitus, past participle of placēre to please, be decided



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to suppress quietly or indirectly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!