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Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English plesen, plaisen, from Old French plaise, conjugated form of plaisir or plaire, from Latin placēre (to please, to seem good)[1], from the Proto-Indo-European *plā-k- (wide and flat). Displaced native Middle English quemen, queamen (to please) (from Old English cwēman (to please)), Middle English biluvien (to please, delight) (from Middle English bi-, be- + luvien (to love)), Middle English liken (to like, please) (from Old English līcian (to please, be like)), Middle English lusten, listen (to be pleasing, delight) (from Old English lystan (to please)).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • pleace (used from the Middle English period up to the 15th century, and in Scots until the 17th century)


please (third-person singular simple present pleases, present participle pleasing, simple past and past participle pleased)

  1. (transitive) To make happy or satisfy; to give pleasure to.
    Her presentation pleased the executives.
    I'm pleased to see you've been behaving yourself.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “Ep./1/1”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days:
      And so it had always pleased M. Stutz to expect great things from the dark young man whom he had first seen in his early twenties ; and his expectations had waxed rather than waned on hearing the faint bruit of the love of Ivor and Virginia—for Virginia, M. Stutz thought, would bring fineness to a point in a man like Ivor Marlay, […].
  2. (intransitive, ergative) To desire; to will; to be pleased by.
    Just do as you please.
    • Bible, Psalms cxxxv. 6
      Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he.
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Short for if you please, an intransitive, ergative form taken from if it please you,[1][2] which replaced pray.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • (for the exaggerated way it is often pronounced as the expression of annoyance) puh-lease


please (not comparable)

  1. Used to make a polite request.
    Please, pass the bread.
    Would you please sign this form?
    Could you tell me the time, please?
  2. Used as an affirmative to an offer.
    May I help you? —Please.
  3. An expression of annoyance or impatience.
    Oh, please, do we have to hear that again?
Derived terms[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 please” in Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  2. ^ please” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).