Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

plead - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     plead pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlepleading
past tensepleaded
past participlepleaded
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to ask for something in an urgent or emotional way

    ‘Please help us,’ Claire pleaded.

    plead for:

    He knelt in front of the king, pleading for mercy.

    plead with someone (to do something):

    I pleaded with you to stay, but you turned your back on me.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] legal to say in a court of law whether you are guilty of a crime or not
    plead guilty/not guilty:

    Both defendants pleaded not guilty on all counts.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to mention something as an excuse for doing or not doing something
    plead poverty/ignorance:

    Pleading poverty, he sought charity from local shopkeepers.

    plead tiredness/illness/a headache:

    Ellie pleaded tiredness and went to bed very early.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to try to show that something is important or worth trying to achieve

    He pleaded the case for continued cooperation with the Russians.

    Her book pleaded the cause of women’s education.

Open Dictionary


a rise in the level of a stream or river

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play