noun Law.

a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to defendant).

Origin of plaintiff

1350–1400; Middle English plaintif complaining person, noun use of the adj.: plaintive
Related formsplain·tiff·ship, noun
Can be confusedplaintiff plaintive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for plaintiff

complainant, litigant, prosecutor, suer

Examples from the Web for plaintiff

Contemporary Examples of plaintiff

Historical Examples of plaintiff

British Dictionary definitions for plaintiff



(formerly) a person who brings a civil action in a court of lawNow replaced by: claimant Compare defendant (def. 1)

Word Origin for plaintiff

C14: from legal French plaintif, from Old French plaintif (adj) complaining, from plainte plaint
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

Word Origin and History for plaintiff

c.1400, from Anglo-French pleintif (late 13c.), noun use of Old French plaintif "complaining; wretched, miserable," from plainte (see plaint). Identical with plaintive at first; the form that receded into legal usage retained the older -iff spelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

plaintiff in Culture


The party that institutes a suit in a court. The person or entity the plaintiff sues is the defendant.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.