[ pleyn-tif ]
See synonyms for plaintiff on
  1. a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to defendant).

Origin of plaintiff

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English plaintif “complaining person,” noun use of the adjective; see plaintive

Other words from plaintiff

  • plain·tiff·ship, noun

Words that may be confused with plaintiff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use plaintiff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plaintiff


/ (ˈpleɪntɪf) /

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

Origin of 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

Cultural definitions for plaintiff


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.