from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The party that institutes a suit in a court.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In law, the person who begins a suit before a tribunal for the recovery of a claim: opposed to defendant.
  • Complaining.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete See plaintive.
  • noun (Law) One who commences a personal action or suit to obtain a remedy for an injury to his rights; -- opposed to defendant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun law A party bringing a suit in civil law against a defendant; accusers.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a person who brings an action in a court of law


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English plaintif, from Anglo-Norman pleintif, from Old French plaintif, aggrieved; see plaintive.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English plaintif, from Old French plaintif ("complaining; as a noun, one who complains, a plaintiff") from the verb plaindre. See plaintive.


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  • English law term, replaced by 'claimant' in 1999 (in England and Wales).

    August 18, 2008

  • still used in American courts. "Claimant" is often seen in claims involving administrative law in the US.

    August 18, 2008

  • Quite right: I had first thought 'English law' would be specific enough, but changed my mind and came back to add 'England and Wales' to my first posting. 'English law', while it is unlikely to mean "English-language law", is still rather vague about jurisdictions.

    August 18, 2008

  • If on the other hand you're having an unusually large tiff, you will of course need a bigger word as well.

    October 30, 2008