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See also: pleâ



From Middle English, from Old French plait, plaid, from Medieval Latin placitum ‎(a decree, sentence, suit, plea, etc., Latin an opinion, determination, prescription, order; literally, that which is pleasing, pleasure), neuter of placitus, past participle of placere ‎(to please).



plea ‎(plural pleas)

  1. An appeal, petition, urgent prayer or entreaty.
    a plea for mercy
  2. An excuse; an apology.
  3. That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in justification.
  4. (law) That which is alleged by a party in support of his cause.
  5. (law) An allegation of fact in a cause, as distinguished from a demurrer.
  6. (law) The defendant’s answer to the plaintiff’s declaration and demand.
  7. (law) A cause in court; a lawsuit; as, the Court of Common Pleas.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Laws of Massachusetts.
      The Supreme Judicial Court shall have cognizance of pleas real, personal, and mixed.

Usage notes[edit]

In 19th century U.K. law, that which the plaintiff alleges in his declaration is answered and repelled or justified by the defendant’s plea. In chancery practice, a plea is a special answer showing or relying upon one or more things as a cause why the suit should be either dismissed, delayed, or barred. In criminal practice, the plea is the defendant’s formal answer to the indictment or information presented against him/her.

Related terms[edit]


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