plead

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

Other Words from plead

pleadable \ ˈplē-​də-​bəl How to pronounce plead (audio) \ adjective
pleader noun
pleadingly \ ˈplē-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce plead (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 Former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon filed a motion on Wednesday to plead not guilty to contempt of Congress charges and waived his right to an arraignment. Caroline Linton, CBS News, 17 Nov. 2021 The group continued to plead even after the hearing started but was never granted entrance. Ashton Eley, Arkansas Online, 16 Nov. 2021 And, of course, plead Argentina’s case with the IMF so that the whole world could see. Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2021 The two assailants that Douglas identified at the scene both plead guilty to second-degree murder and each ended up serving about 10 years in prison for the crimes, according to Strickland's attorney, Robert Hoffman. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 11 Nov. 2021 Dustin’s first instinct was to panic and plead ignorance. Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2021 Under the military commission system that was set up after Sept. 11, even defendants who plead guilty and make a deal with the government must have a jury sentencing hearing. New York Times, 31 Oct. 2021 Since big companies rarely plead guilty or suffer the consequences of a criminal conviction, prosecutors rely on other forms of punishment and tools to improve future compliance. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 28 Oct. 2021 There was no way to plead on social media, warning people to be on the lookout. Mckenna Oxenden, baltimoresun.com, 21 Oct. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near plead

pleach

plead

plead ignorance

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Statistics for plead

Last Updated

22 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plead. Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on plead

Nglish: Translation of plead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plead for Arabic Speakers

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