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[plej] /plɛdʒ/
a solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something:
a pledge of aid; a pledge not to wage war.
something delivered as security for the payment of a debt or fulfillment of a promise, and subject to forfeiture on failure to pay or fulfill the promise.
the state of being given or held as security:
to put a thing in pledge.
  1. the act of delivering goods, property, etc., to another for security.
  2. the resulting legal relationship.
something given or regarded as a security.
a person accepted for membership in a club, fraternity, or sorority, but not yet formally approved.
an assurance of support or goodwill conveyed by drinking a person's health; a toast.
  1. a hostage.
  2. a person who becomes bail or surety for another.
verb (used with object), pledged, pledging.
to bind by or as if by a pledge:
to pledge hearers to secrecy.
to promise solemnly:
to pledge one's support.
to give or deposit as a pledge; pawn.
to stake, as one's honor.
to secure by a pledge; give a pledge for.
to accept as a pledge for club, fraternity, or sorority membership.
to drink a health or toast to.
verb (used without object), pledged, pledging.
to make or give a pledge:
to pledge for someone.
to drink a pledge; toast someone's health, success, etc.
take the pledge, to make a solemn, formal vow to abstain from intoxicating drink.
Origin of pledge
early Medieval Latin
1275-1325; Middle English plege < Anglo-French < early Medieval Latin plevium, plebium, derivative of plebīre to pledge < Germanic; compare Old English plēon to risk, German pflegen to look after. See plight2
Related forms
pledgeable, adjective
pledger, noun
pledgeless, adjective
interpledge, verb (used with object), interpledged, interpledging.
prepledge, verb (used with object), prepledged, prepledging; noun
quasi-pledge, verb, quasi-pledged, quasi-pledging.
repledge, verb (used with object), repledged, repledging, noun
unpledged, adjective
2. warranty, surety, guaranty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pledging
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He beckoned to the landlord to bring her a glass, and she drank of it, pledging the organist.

    The Nebuly Coat John Meade Falkner
  • pledging myself to this boy before I know how he will turn out.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • An authority to borrow money, by pledging the keel or bottom of the ship.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • To drink cosily; the act of touching glasses in pledging a health.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • They always were pledging them to our enemies, as an earnest that we would do what they wanted.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
British Dictionary definitions for pledging


a formal or solemn promise or agreement, esp to do or refrain from doing something
  1. collateral for the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation
  2. the condition of being collateral (esp in the phrase in pledge)
a sign, token, or indication: the gift is a pledge of their sincerity
an assurance of support or goodwill, conveyed by drinking to a person, cause, etc; toast: we drank a pledge to their success
a person who binds himself, as by becoming bail or surety for another
sign the pledge, take the pledge, to make a vow to abstain from alcoholic drink
to promise formally or solemnly: he pledged allegiance
(transitive) to bind or secure by or as if by a pledge: they were pledged to secrecy
to give, deposit, or offer (one's word, freedom, property, etc) as a guarantee, as for the repayment of a loan
to drink a toast to (a person, cause, etc)
Derived Forms
pledgable, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French plege, from Late Latin plebium gage, security, from plebīre to pledge, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German pflegan to look after, care for
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pledging



mid-14c., "surety, bail," from Old French plege (Modern French pleige) "hostage, security, bail," probably from Frankish *plegan "to guarantee," from *pleg-, a West Germanic root meaning "have responsibility for" (cf. Old Saxon plegan "vouch for," Middle Dutch plien "to answer for, guarantee," Old High German pflegan "to care for, be accustomed to," Old English pleon "to risk the loss of, expose to danger;" see plight (v.)).

Meaning "allegiance vow attested by drinking with another" is from 1630s. Sense of "solemn promise" first recorded 1814, though this notion is from 16c. in the verb. Weekley notes the "curious contradiction" in pledge (v.) "to toast with a drink" (1540s) and pledge (n.) "the vow to abstain from drinking" (1833). Meaning "student who has agreed to join a fraternity or sorority" dates from 1901.



c.1400, "to promise" (something to someone), "to give over as security for repayment," also "promise faith to," from pledge (n.) and from Old French plegier, from plege (n.). From mid-15c. as "to stand surety for, be responsible for;" late 15c. as "to mortgage." Meaning "put (someone) under oath" is from 1570s; sense of "to solemnly promise or guarantee" is from 1590s, as is sense "to drink a toast." Related: Pledged; pledging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pledging



A student who has agreed to join a certain college fraternity or sorority (1901+ Students)


: Without a second thought MacCrimmon pledged Xi Phi

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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