See more synonyms for plea on
  1. an appeal or entreaty: a plea for mercy.
  2. something that is alleged, urged, or pleaded in defense or justification.
  3. an excuse; pretext: He begged off on the plea that his car wasn't working.
  4. Law.
    1. an allegation made by, or on behalf of, a party to a legal suit, in support of his or her claim or defense.
    2. a defendant's answer to a legal declaration or charge.
    3. (in courts of equity) a plea that admits the truth of the declaration, but alleges special or new matter in avoidance.
    4. Obsolete.a suit or action.
  1. cop a plea, Slang. cop1(def 5b).

Origin of plea

1175–1225; Middle English ple, earlier plaid < Old French < early Medieval Latin placitum law-court, suit, decision, decree, Latin: opinion (literally, that which is pleasing or agreeable), noun use of neuter of past participle of placēre to please
Can be confusedpleas please

Synonyms for plea

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plea

Contemporary Examples of plea

Historical Examples of plea

  • Life shelves them on the plea that they are old; but that is not the reason.

  • Truly then his plea of exhaustion would not be without excuse!

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • Burke, however, shook his head in remonstrance against Gilder's plea.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The plea touched to the bottom of her heart, but she could not, would not yield.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Again, Garson shook his head in absolute refusal of her plea.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for plea


  1. an earnest entreaty or requesta plea for help
    1. lawsomething alleged or pleaded by or on behalf of a party to legal proceedings in support of his claim or defence
    2. criminal lawthe answer made by an accused to the chargea plea of guilty
    3. (in Scotland and formerly in England) a suit or action at law
  2. an excuse, justification, or pretexthe gave the plea of a previous engagement

Word Origin for plea

C13: from Anglo-Norman plai, from Old French plaid lawsuit, from Medieval Latin placitum court order (literally: what is pleasing), from Latin placēre to please
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 plea

early 13c., "lawsuit," from Anglo-French plai (late 12c.), Old French plait "lawsuit, decision, decree" (9c.), from Medieval Latin placitum "lawsuit," in classical Latin, "opinion, decree," literally "that which pleases, thing which is agreed upon," properly neuter past participle of placere (see please). Sense development seems to be from "something pleasant," to "something that pleases both sides," to "something that has been decided." Meaning "a pleading, an agreement in a suit" is attested from late 14c. Plea-bargaining is first attested 1963. Common pleas (early 13c.) originally were legal proceedings over which the Crown did not claim exclusive jurisdiction (as distinct from pleas of the Crown); later "actions brought by one subject against another."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with plea


see cop a plea.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.