\ ˈplē How to pronounce plea (audio) \

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 entry 1
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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of plea in a Sentence

We are making a plea to all companies to stop polluting the environment. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty.
Recent Examples on the Web Similar pleas were heard—from some of the same people—a decade ago, when policymakers were trying to get the world out of the slump brought on by the financial crisis of 2007-09. The Economist, "Never let a crisis go to waste The pressure to make the post-covid rebound green," 23 May 2020 Giannulli's lawyer requested the hearing be moved up to July 30, explaining that the judge will not accept the plea until the time the pre-sentence report is created. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Lori Loughlin, husband Mossimo Giannulli via Zoom enter guilty pleas in college admissions scandal," 22 May 2020 Under the plea, Loughlin reportedly faces two months in prison, and Giannulli faces five months. Harold Maass, TheWeek, "10 things you need to know today: May 22, 2020," 22 May 2020 Federal prosecutors in this case did their part to incentivize early guilty pleas. NBC News, "Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli vowed to battle their cases to trial. They had lots of reasons to plead guilty.," 21 May 2020 Then, on May 17, the truth came out: the suspicious episode titles and pleas for freedom were all about...contract negotiations, as the New York Times details. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Here’s The Drama Happening With The “Call Her Daddy” Podcast," 21 May 2020 The Supreme Court is also scheduled to tackle on Tuesday the broadcaster’s plea to overturn the National Telecommunication Commission’s shutdown order. Andreo Calonzo,, "Philippine Broadcaster Caught in Duterte Cross-Hairs Plunges," 20 May 2020 The guilty plea was the result of a monthslong investigation, Tigard police said in a statement. oregonlive, "Washington County burglar responsible for ‘dozens’ of break-ins sentenced to 4 years in prison," 20 May 2020 At Jensen's recommendation, the Justice Department moved to undo Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat. Matt Zapotosky, Anchorage Daily News, "Barr says he does not expect Obama or Biden will be investigated by prosecutor reviewing 2016 Russia probe," 18 May 2020

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.

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First Known Use of plea

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for plea

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for plea

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for plea


How to pronounce plea (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plea

: a serious and emotional request for something
: 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


\ ˈplē How to pronounce plea (audio) \

Kids Definition of plea

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


\ ˈplē How to pronounce plea (audio) \

Legal Definition of plea

1a : 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
2a : an accused party's answer to a criminal charge or indictment
b : a plea of guilty
3 : an earnest entreaty

History and Etymology for 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on plea

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plea

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plea

Spanish Central: Translation of plea

Nglish: Translation of plea for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plea for Arabic Speakers

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