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”).
plea (plural pleas)
- An appeal, petition, urgent prayer or entreaty.
- a plea for mercy
- An excuse; an apology.
- That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in justification.
- (law) That which is alleged by a party in support of his cause.
- (law) An allegation of fact in a cause, as distinguished from a demurrer.
- (law) The defendant’s answer to the plaintiff’s declaration and demand.
- (law) A cause in court; a lawsuit; as, the Court of Common Pleas. See under Common.
- (Can we date this quote?) The Supreme Judicial Court shall have cognizance of pleas real, personal, and mixed. --Laws of Massachusetts.
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.
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- plea in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- plea in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- plea at OneLook Dictionary Search