\ˈplēd \
pleaded\ ˈplē-​dəd \ or pled also plead\ ˈpled \; 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 \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē \ 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

People have also taken to social media to plead for help. Time, "Death Toll Climbs to 76 As Heavy Rains Slam Southern Japan," 8 July 2018 People have also taken to social media to plead for help. Yuri Kageyama, Fox News, "Death toll climbs to 76 as heavy rains hammer southern Japan," 7 July 2018 In June, 31-year-old Kevin Hevel pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in connection with the 2017 death of 60-year-old Peter Rankin. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Former Navajo Nation police officer sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatal DUI crash," 14 July 2018 Since her arrest, Coombes has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, preventing a lawful burial and fraud. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Daughter kills dad after finding his child porn collection. She buried her secret for 12 years," 13 July 2018 Meissenn, Brinson, Dalmy and three other individuals also pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this scheme. Courant Staff Report,, "Conspirator In $20 Million Pump-And-Dump Scheme Gets 7 Years," 13 July 2018 Manafort and Gates initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Mueller's Russia investigation: What to know," 13 July 2018 In a letter written on Sentsov’s 42nd birthday, Lyudmila Sentsova pleaded with Putin to show mercy and pardon her son. Washington Post, "Jailed Ukrainian filmmaker’s mother asks Putin to pardon him," 13 July 2018 Stephanopoulos pleaded with Quinto to get him out of the nerd jam but to no avail. Ryan Parker, The Hollywood Reporter, "Zachary Quinto Teases George Stephanopoulos for 'Star Wars' Spock Mix-Up," 12 July 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

31 Oct 2018

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



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


\ˈplēd \
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.


\ˈplēd \
pleaded or pled also plead\ ˈpled \; 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

Comments on plead

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playful or foolish behavior

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