plead·​ing ˈplē-diŋ How to pronounce pleading (audio)
: advocacy of a cause in a court of law
: one of the formal usually written allegations and counter allegations made alternately by the parties in a legal action or proceeding
: the action or process performed by the parties in presenting such formal allegations until a single point at issue is produced
: the introduction of one of these allegations and especially the first one
: the body of rules according to which these allegations are framed
: the act or an instance of making a plea
: a sincere entreaty

Example Sentences

I'm tired of their begging and pleading. Despite our pleadings to be allowed to leave, they kept us there for several more hours.
Recent Examples on the Web People in the surrounding houses watched my pleading unfold. Hazlitt, 25 Jan. 2023 Haunting, pleading, desperate, the music became a character all its own — a recurring portent of the next plot development. Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 20 Dec. 2022 What missy of a grinch could resist his pleading? 22. Chris Willman, Variety, 24 Dec. 2022 This was specific enough for this stage of the pleading. Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, 15 Dec. 2022 Ambition that smacks of entitlement and self-satisfaction is as much a turnoff for me as sentimental pleading. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2022 White’s attorneys site the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as an array of court case in making their argument in the six-page pleading. Paul Gattis |, al, 15 Sep. 2022 For months, Stern emailed and called Trump representatives, urging them to simply send them back, using a mix of pleading and an occasional threat. Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Aug. 2022 The 60 days does not begin to run until and unless the pleading contains a cause of action that falls within the Scope of the Act (§ 2). Jay Adkisson, Forbes, 31 May 2021 See More

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

Word History


Middle English plaiding, pledynge "arguing, contention, legal dispute," from plaiden, pleden "to contend legally, argue in court, plead" + -ing, -ynge -ing entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pleading was in the 14th century

Cite this Entry

“Pleading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition


: one of the formal declarations (as a complaint or answer) exchanged by the parties in a legal proceeding (as a suit) setting forth claims, averments, allegations, denials, or defenses
also : a written document embodying such a declaration see also relation back
: any of the allegations, averments, claims, denials, or defenses set forth in a pleading
alternative pleading
: a pleading that sets out an alternative theory in support of a plaintiff's claim for relief or a defendant's defense
amended pleading
: a pleading that is filed to replace an original pleading and that contains matters omitted from or not known at the time of the original pleading
responsive pleading \ ri-​ˈspän-​siv-​ \
: a pleading that directly responds to another pleading (as by denying in an answer allegations in a complaint)
sham pleading
: a pleading that is factually false, is not made in good faith, and that may be struck
supplemental pleading
: a pleading that supplements an earlier pleading with matters that have occurred or come into existence since the date of the original pleading
: a process or system through which the parties in a legal proceeding present their allegations
code pleading
: pleading (as fact pleading) done in accordance with the rules set down in a code

Note: Code pleading began in 1848 in New York State and was a departure from the complex system of common-law pleading, which included a lengthy set of stages by which a single issue was produced, and which was determined by the type of writ under which the plaintiff proceeded.

fact pleading
: pleading that requires a plaintiff to set out in the complaint facts sufficient to establish a cause of action compare notice pleading in this entry
notice pleading
: pleading that is characterized especially by a simplified description sufficient to give notice of a claim or defense rather than by a technical account of any facts pertinent to the claim or defense compare fact pleading in this entry

Note: Notice pleading is allowed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and in a majority of states, although complex cases often require substantial detail in the pleading.

More from Merriam-Webster on pleading

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?