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 Condrey pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiring to commit wire fraud in 2015. Lynh Bui, Washington Post, "Md. man convicted of bribing Russian official to secure business contracts," 25 Nov. 2019 Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison in June. NBC News, "Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony 'now walking perfectly'," 25 Nov. 2019 Nunnenkamp and Bennett each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. courier-journal.com, "How this couple ran a ‘redneck’ meth empire in an Appalachian county ravaged by addiction," 25 Nov. 2019 Cranford pleaded guilty to one count of federal program bribery on June 7. Doug Thompson, Arkansas Online, "Lobbyist in Arkansas corruption scheme gets 7 years in prison," 25 Nov. 2019 Aranda pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. SFChronicle.com, "News of the Day From Across the Nation," 24 Nov. 2019 John Bishop, 57, of Sublimity pleaded guilty to felony first-degree theft from the nonprofit that represents the state’s 36 elected sheriffs and lobbies the Legislature on their behalf. oregonlive, "Director of Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association convicted of stealing from the group," 22 Nov. 2019 After news of her indictment broke, former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to four of the 11 charges brought against her in the fallout of her Healthy Holly series scandal. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion, Wire Fraud," 22 Nov. 2019 Hamel pleaded not guilty to killing Kelsey Clifford during an arraignment in Orange District Court on Tuesday and is being held without bail. BostonGlobe.com, "Bloody sweatshirt allegedly ties man to woman’s slaying in Athol - The Boston Globe," 21 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for plead

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for plead

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pled. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for plead

plead

verb
How to pronounce plead (audio)

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 pleadKansas 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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