v. plead·ed or pled (plĕd), or plead, plead·ing, pleads
1. To appeal earnestly; beg: plead for more time.
2. To offer reasons for or against something; argue earnestly: plead against a bill.
3. To provide an argument or appeal: Your youth pleads for you in this instance.
4. Law To respond to a criminal charge: plead guilty.
1. To assert as defense, vindication, or excuse; claim as a plea: plead illness as the reason for his absence.
a. To specify (a cause of action or defense): plead a First Amendment claim.
b. To set forth in a pleading: plead that plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the breach of contract.
[Middle English pleden, plaiden, from Old French plaidier, from Medieval Latin placitāre, to appeal to the law, from Late Latin placitum, decree, opinion; see PLEA.]
Usage Note: In strict legal usage, one is said to plead guilty or plead not guilty but not to plead innocent. In nonlegal contexts, however, plead innocent is well established. · The Usage Panel prefers the past tense pleaded over pled outside of legal contexts. In our 2008 survey, the entire Panel found pleaded acceptable in He pleaded with me to give him the part, in contrast to 60 percent who accepted the same sentence using pled, and only 38 who found pled completely acceptable in this use.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.