Definition of plea in US English:



  • 1A request made in an urgent and emotional manner.

    ‘he made a dramatic plea for disarmament’
    • ‘His emotional plea moved the students to organise a special blood-giving day at the beginning of the college year.’
    • ‘He also is undecided on his emotions, chopping and changing between angry violent outbursts and whiny emotional pleas.’
    • ‘She made an emotional plea to Wiltshire County Council to fund a bypass.’
    • ‘He made an urgent plea for the public to help catch the dealers.’
    • ‘It is now six days since the 21-year-old was last seen and her family yesterday made an emotional plea for her to return.’
    • ‘Many people made emotional and strained pleas that it should not even be a subject for discussion.’
    • ‘But unlike Moore, he doesn't rely on emotional pleas from hysterical moms and funny songs to lighten the mood.’
    • ‘An urgent plea has been made for cash help for a charity which provides a vital service for vulnerable residents across Tendring.’
    • ‘Make your views known before it's too late, was the urgent plea being put out to Essex businesses.’
    • ‘But police have made an urgent plea for help in ensuring dealers from outside the area do not move in and take their place.’
    • ‘The carnival is being organised by just four dedicated volunteers and Eileen, 62, has now made an urgent plea for help.’
    • ‘The news has stunned war veterans in the city - and has sparked an urgent plea for more volunteers to come forward.’
    • ‘Beware of charities long on emotional pleas but short on concrete examples of where the money goes, she advised.’
    • ‘The father of a missing Yorkshire woman has made an emotional plea for information about his daughter who vanished three weeks ago.’
    • ‘I think the Home Office should seriously reconsider his urgent plea for asylum forthwith.’
    • ‘Parents have made emotional pleas for an under-threat school to be saved.’
    • ‘Campaigners for an improved rail service will take their pleas for urgent action to the very top.’
    • ‘A villager has voiced an emotional plea to stop a proposed road scheme, which he says will devastate his wife's business.’
    • ‘An urgent plea has been made to solve parking problems in a village before there is a serious accident.’
    • ‘A leading north west health expert has issued an urgent plea to food handlers who are suffering from colds to stay away from work.’
    appeal, entreaty, supplication, petition, prayer
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    1. 1.1 A claim that a circumstance means that one should not be blamed for or should not be forced to do something.
      ‘her plea of a headache was not entirely false’
      • ‘He was given six years for forgery despite his plea that he regarded painting banknotes as "a new form of art."’
      • ‘You must demonstrate that you have made a decision and will no longer accept philandering, excuses, promises or pleas.’
      • ‘His attorneys moved on Wednesday to obtain a prompt hearing on his plea that he is legally entitled to release.’
      claim, explanation, defence, justification, vindication
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  • 2Law
    A formal statement by or on behalf of a defendant or prisoner, stating guilt or innocence in response to a charge, offering an allegation of fact, or claiming that a point of law should apply.

    ‘he changed his plea to not guilty’
    • ‘The guilty plea of the accused to both charges laid against him is also mitigating.’
    • ‘I have already said that I am not going to make a plea of diminished responsibility on the grounds of incapacity.’
    • ‘It seems that he indicated a plea of guilty even before the charge was amended.’
    • ‘The defendants put forward a plea of justification, based on the issue of the writ itself.’
    • ‘During his mitigation plea, he restated his claim that he was the victim of a political conspiracy.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘lawsuit’): from Old French plait, plaid ‘agreement, discussion’, from Latin placitum ‘a decree’, neuter past participle of placere ‘to please’.