View synonyms for plea


[ plee ]


  1. an appeal or entreaty:

    a plea for mercy.

    Synonyms: suit, solicitation, supplication, petition, request

  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.

    Synonyms: justification

  4. Law.
    1. an allegation made by, or on behalf of, a party to a legal suit, in support of their 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.


/ pliː /


  1. an earnest entreaty or request

    a plea for help

    1. law something alleged or pleaded by or on behalf of a party to legal proceedings in support of his claim or defence
    2. criminal law the answer made by an accused to the charge

      a plea of guilty

    3. (in Scotland and formerly in England) a suit or action at law
  2. an excuse, justification, or pretext

    he gave the plea of a previous engagement

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Word History and Origins

Origin of plea1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English ple, earlier plaid from Old French, from early Medieval Latin placitum “law-court, suit, decision, decree,” Latin: “opinion” (literally, “that which is pleasing or agreeable”), placēre “to please”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of plea1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. cop a plea, Slang. cop 2( def 5b ).

More idioms and phrases containing plea

see cop a plea .

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Example Sentences

A couple of years later, she was charged with larceny in a separate case from the first shoplifting incident and was offered a plea deal.

From Vox

Following pleas from their governments, tourists from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia will also be able to enter Hungary if they had already booked a holiday there.

From Fortune

In their pleas, they said that without government support, their restaurants would close for good.

From Eater

Unlike most plea agreements, in which the judge remains free to decide the defendant’s sentence, Loughlin’s and Giannulli’s proposed prison terms were binding once accepted.

From Fortune

As a result, California in 2014 became the first state to ban the plea.

He later accepted a plea deal that put him behind bars for 25 years.

Schettino also tried to enter a plea bargain agreement, which ultimately was rejected by the Grosseto court.

The mother also made a plea to the violent ones who wreak such havoc.

It was an intimate and somber plea, like a parent opening an intervention with a wayward child.

He could have gotten away with a greatly reduced fine and no time behind bears if he had simply entered a guilty plea.

It is probable he wished to provide written proof of a plea that he was an unwilling agent in the clutch of a mutinous army.

Nor can he hold the company on the plea of ignorance by declaring he has not read it, for it is his duty to read the receipt.

On the plea that they must hasten if the midday heat were to be avoided, they cut short the halt to less than an hour.

In short, insurgency ceased to be a valid plea; if it existed in fact, officially it had become a dead letter.

For the popular voice accused him of outrages for which the utmost license of civil war would not furnish a plea.


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More About Plea

What does plea mean?

A plea is an intense request or appeal.

It’s especially used to imply that the request is passionate and that the person doing the pleading is desperate.

It’s especially used in serious situations. A person might make a plea to their friend to get help with an addiction. A kid might make a plea to their parents begging not to be grounded.

In law, a plea is generally a defendant’s response to an accusation, as in a plea of guilty or not guilty. A plea-bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge. The slang phrase cop a plea refers to this and can be used in nonlegal contexts.

To make a plea is to plead.

Example: When I was a kid, I used to beg my mom not to make me go to the dentist, but she always ignored my pleas.

Where does plea come from?

The first records of plea come from around 1200. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb placēre, meaning “to please.”

A plea is a serious or passionate appeal and is usually made by someone who is desperate or extremely emotional. A plea is always made to another person or entity. In the context of religion, a prayer is often a kind of plea.

In law, plea is used to mean a variety of different things, including the defendant’s answer to the prosecution (a plea of not guilty) or an excuse or defense for one’s actions (a plea of self-defense).

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What are some other forms related to plea?

  • pleas (plural noun)
  • plead (verb)

What are some synonyms for plea?

What are some words that share a root or word element with plea

What are some words that often get used in discussing plea?

How is plea used in real life?

Plea is commonly used when talking about defendants in a legal case. Outside of legal contexts, a passionate request can be called a plea, especially when the person making the request appears to be desperate.



Try using plea!

True or False?

A plea is the answer a person gives when someone else is desperately asking them for something.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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