Definition of plead in US English:


verbpleaded, pled

  • 1reporting verb Make an emotional appeal.

    with direct speech ‘“Don't go,” she pleaded’
    with infinitive ‘Anne pleaded to go with her’
    no object ‘they pleaded with Carol to come home again’
    • ‘I tried to leave then, to walk away (something I'd never done before), but Teresa grabbed my arm and pleaded with me not to go.’
    • ‘The next morning, I pleaded with my husband not to return to the doctor - who I knew would remove the expanded laminaria and insert twice as many.’
    • ‘‘The police will create problems for you and us also sir,’ was how a restaurant manager at Dilsukhnagar pleaded with a group of doctors.’
    • ‘Councillors and staff pleaded with Milburn to consider the tunnel option, even suggesting donating district-owned land in order to keep the cost down.’
    • ‘Kimmel pleaded with the network to get this done.’
    • ‘Some pleaded with the gunman to stop.’
    • ‘They just dragged Eamon from the bed, threw him all the way down the stairs, lay him on his back and beat him with sticks embedded with huge nails while my parents pleaded with them to leave him alone because of his age.’
    • ‘In 1951, when Rajaji expressed his inability to attend a Congress session at Indore, Nehru, hungry for his company, pleaded with him to come.’
    • ‘I pleaded with him, with others around him, too.’
    • ‘Two weeks ago, Japan's foreign minister pleaded with the U.N. to do more to block Pyongyang's illicit-drug exports to Japan.’
    • ‘We made presentations at their meetings, told them what we had been hearing from bus riders and night workers, and pleaded with board members to bring a resolution to restore the buses.’
    • ‘Labor MPs pleaded with the government to pull back.’
    • ‘He pleaded with the minister to give the project the go ahead, emphasising that the rail upgrade would cost around €130 million’
    • ‘He told me that he was getting divorced from his wife and pleaded with me to go away with him.’
    • ‘It exploded as he pleaded with police to diffuse it.’
    • ‘Bradford's political leaders yesterday pleaded with the Government not to force it to hold a referendum on having a directly-elected New York-style mayor.’
    • ‘I needed wider experience than my own, so I convened a couple of dinner parties of various successful singles that I know, plied them with much wine and pleaded with them to tell me their secrets.’
    • ‘He pleaded with Charlie Nicholas to sign for Liverpool rather than Arsenal.’
    • ‘McGraw pleaded with the crowd not to pay their way into yesterday's match, declaring: ‘The only way to make him suffer is by not paying in.’’
    • ‘At this point, she went to hide in a cupboard and repeatedly pleaded with the operator: ‘Oh my God, please help me.’’
    beg, entreat, beseech, implore, appeal to, petition, supplicate, importune, pray to, request, ask earnestly, call on, adjure
    View synonyms
  • 2with object Present and argue for (a position), especially in court or in another public context.

    ‘using cheap melodrama to plead the case for three prisoners’
    • ‘The unhappy partner had to petition the legislature or court to plead his or her case.’
    • ‘In return, the unions agreed to plead the claim in the arbitration tribunal, tying their members to whatever decision is handed down.’
    • ‘So there was no voice strong enough to plead their case.’
    • ‘He argues that the Defendant pleaded her case purely on the basis of adverse possession, and did not challenge the legal title asserted by the Plaintiff.’
    • ‘Afterwards, she lived mainly at Hellesdon or Caister, where she managed her husband's property while he pled his case in London before the courts and the Archbishop of Canterbury.’
    • ‘We see Tom Stall running a popular eatery with his wife helping him out when she is not pleading cases in law courts.’
    • ‘But that is not how the case was pleaded or argued.’
    • ‘That case has never been pleaded or argued against us at all.’
    • ‘I actually followed Simon out of the room, pleading my case as he went to get coffee.’
    • ‘Our courts are clogged with lawsuits pleading redress of wrongs perpetrated on individual employees.’
    • ‘There is another answer at much lower level, namely, that none of that was pleaded, argued or decided below and it is not open now.’
    • ‘Saudi officials have been pleading their country's case to the media.’
    • ‘He suggested that in any event the point had never been pleaded or argued on this basis previously.’
    • ‘My mother particularly thought I'd make a very good barrister, and you know, do I think I could plead a case in court?’
    • ‘While the case has employment law undertones, it was pleaded and presented as an oppression remedy case.’
    • ‘In the courtroom, the German judge read the charges and asked me in which court I wished to plead my case: German or American.’
    • ‘Now he stands accused of inadequately pleading his position, of mocking the people, and is instructed to try again to seek their approval.’
    • ‘I have set out the material part of the pleadings because it is of some importance in this case to see how the case was pleaded and presented in the court below.’
    • ‘I called my roommate Angie who was also on her way, and after we both arrived at the place we started pleading our case.’
    • ‘A week ago the group sent a letter to the province pleading the case for arts groups.’
    claim, use as an excuse, assert, allege
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Law no object Address a court as an advocate on behalf of a party.
      • ‘A court should only grant a motion for particulars where they are necessary for the moving party to plead and the particulars are not within the knowledge of the moving party.’
      • ‘Advocacy commonly is defined as pleading on behalf of another.’
      • ‘The Plaintiff did not plead from an employment law perspective, that the employment contract had been breached, or that the Plaintiff had been fired without cause.’
      • ‘In some judicial courts in the early eighteenth century, attorneys had to kneel while university-educated advocates pleaded at the bar.’
    2. 2.2Law no object, with complement State formally in court whether one is guilty or not guilty of the offense with which one is charged.
      ‘he pleaded guilty to the drug charge’
      • ‘In the adversarial system at the beginning of trial proceedings the court asks the defendant whether he pleads guilty or not guilty.’
      • ‘In court he pleaded guilty to two offences of actual bodily harm, but denied specific details of the attack.’
      • ‘I thought you had conceded earlier that as originally framed, it would not have been appropriate to expect the accused to plead guilty to that charge.’
      • ‘The defendant had pleaded guilty to drugs offences in January 2001.’
      • ‘I went into court and I pleaded guilty to the charge of common assault.’
    3. 2.3Law Invoke (a reason or a point of law) as an accusation or defense.
      ‘on trial for attempted murder, she pleaded self-defense’
      • ‘Phil gets to live on beyond this, and with his history of rather public instability, he is pretty well set up to plead insanity.’
      • ‘The death penalty is not that often given to these types of people because at the trial, the defendant will plead insanity and claim that they were not in control of their actions at the time that they committed the crime.’
      • ‘I notice that the Commonwealth, by its defence, does not plead any statute of limitations.’
      • ‘If she wants to plead good reason on this occasion, she also needs to apologise.’
      • ‘As counsel for the Bank has pointed out, the Statement of Defence does not plead unconscionability.’
    4. 2.4 Offer or present as an excuse for doing or not doing something.
      ‘he pleaded family commitments as a reason for not attending’
      • ‘But the various cities and counties have continued to plead poverty in the hope of receiving aid from central government.’
      • ‘These new parking meters will have to be purchased, installed and maintained - causing an even heavier drain on the purse of city officials already pleading poverty.’
      • ‘The claim pleads the provisions of the judgment in the 1995 action.’
      • ‘First, Anna and Pietro pleaded indigency, so a public defender had to be found for them.’
      • ‘They continually plead poverty, yet when it comes to dishing out bonuses, they are good to their own.’
      • ‘He's now in federal court pleading a religious defense, because federal law does not allow him a medical defense.’
      • ‘There is nothing more distasteful than backpackers landing in developing countries and pleading poverty.’
      • ‘The city now seeks to amend the claim to plead fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit and to seek punitive damages.’
      • ‘It is interesting to note, lest anyone should plead passage of time, that the court stipulated that sentences were to run from February 4, 1999.’
      • ‘The defendant had denied the claims and pleaded the road accident had caused all the injuries to the plaintiff.’
      • ‘By pleading economic necessity, the company tacitly rules out of court all arguments based on morality or claims that they are supporting deviance.’
      • ‘How can one plead ignorance in the presence of this massive and continuous universal call?’
      • ‘In our universities, students justifiably plead poverty and the recommendations of the Cubie inquiry have been completely ignored.’
      • ‘The issue of negligence is complex and you know, has been pleaded significantly within the documents that have been filed in court.’
      • ‘When he saw Monica's car, he'd flag it down, plead engine trouble and ask if Corbett could drive him.’
      • ‘Britain, pleading her constitutional position, did not sign, though the prince regent expressed personal approval.’
      • ‘But Mr Brown and his peers cannot find comfortable haven in pleading helplessness in the face of a fractured infrastructure.’
      • ‘To think that you want someone out there pleading your special needs is extraordinary.’
      • ‘So if the excisable good in question were alleged to be brandy, how would the pleader plead the nature of those goods?’
      • ‘The couple went to court in October to plead poverty and beg for financial mercy.’
      claim, use as an excuse, assert, allege
      View synonyms


In a court of law, a person can plead guilty or plead not guilty. The phrase plead innocent, although commonly found in general use, is not a technical legal term. Note that one pleads guilty to (not of) an offense, and may be found guilty of an offense. See also innocent


Middle English (in the sense ‘to wrangle’): from Old French plaidier ‘go to law’, from plaid ‘discussion’ (see plea).