Definitions

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

  • noun An earnest request; an appeal.
  • noun An excuse; a pretext.
  • noun The defendant's answer to a formal criminal charge.
  • noun A defendant's answer in a civil action.
  • noun A special answer in an equity action, setting forth in lieu of a detailed response a basis for dismissing, delaying, or barring the suit.
  • noun A legal proceeding.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In law: A suit or action; the presentation of a cause of action to the court.
  • noun In a general sense, that which is urged by or on behalf of a litigant, in support of his claim or defense; the contention of either party
  • noun Specifically, in modern practice: At common law, a document (or in some inferior courts an oral statement) on the defendant's part, denying the allegations of the plaintiffs declaration, or alleging new matter (that is, matter not, shown by the plaintiff's pleading) as cause why the action should not be maintained. In equity, a document alleging new matter as a cause why the defendant should not be required to answer the complainant's bill
  • noun In Scots law, a short and concise note of the grounds on which the action or defense is to be maintained, without argument
  • noun That which is alleged in support, justification, or defense; an urgent argument; a reason; a pleading; an excuse; an apology: as, a plea for the reduction of taxation; a plea for rationalism.
  • noun Pretext; pretense.
  • noun Proposition; proposal.
  • noun A dispute or controversy; a quarrel.
  • noun Another litigation elsewhere, on the same subject, and between the same parties, or between the creditor and a third party sought to be held for the same debt. When used in this sense it is commonly in reference to the question whether arrest in one action is a satisfaction or bar to the other.
  • noun 2. Excuse, etc. See apology.

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

  • noun (Law) That which is alleged by a party in support of his cause; in a stricter sense, an allegation of fact in a cause, as distinguished from a demurrer; in a still more limited sense, and in modern practice, the defendant's answer to the plaintiff's declaration and demand. 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.
  • noun (Law) A cause in court; a lawsuit. See under Common.
  • noun That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in justification; an excuse; an apology.
  • noun An urgent prayer or entreaty.
  • noun (Eng. Law) criminal actions.

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

  • noun An appeal, petition, urgent prayer or entreaty.
  • noun An excuse; an apology.
  • noun That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in justification.
  • noun law That which is alleged by a party in support of his cause.
  • noun law An allegation of fact in a cause, as distinguished from a demurrer.
  • noun law The defendant’s answer to the plaintiff’s declaration and demand.
  • noun law A cause in court; a lawsuit; as, the Court of Common Pleas. See under Common.

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

  • noun an answer indicating why a suit should be dismissed
  • noun (law) a defendant's answer by a factual matter (as distinguished from a demurrer)
  • noun a humble request for help from someone in authority

Etymologies

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

[Middle English plai, lawsuit, from Old French plai, plaid, from Late Latin placitum, decree, from Latin, from neuter past participle of placēre, to please; see plāk- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

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