The Noun is “Plea,” the Verb is “Plead”

By Maeve Maddox

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Some writers are using plead as a noun. It’s a verb.

One meaning of the verb plead as a legal term is

To put forward any allegation or formal statement forming part of the proceedings in an action at law.

In general use, the verb plead means

to make an earnest appeal, entreaty, or supplication; to beg, implore.

The noun plea has similar legal and general meanings:

1. A suit or action at law; the presentation of an action in court.
An urgent, emotional request, an entreaty; (also) an unarticulated appeal.

Used as a verb in place of plead, plea can be regarded as a regionalism (Chiefly Eng. regional [north.], and Sc. Now also U.S.):

If you plea guilty and then later in another hearing say th(at you didn’t do it, can you be charged with perjury? –example of U.S. usage in OED

Using the verb form plead for the noun plea, however, is jarringly nonstandard:

A Plead to Sinners –title of a poem on a religious site

A plead to ban homophobia –headline on a college site

A plead for help –part of a blog title

In each of these examples, the word wanted is plea.

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1 Response to “The Noun is “Plea,” the Verb is “Plead””

  • Jery E. Stephens

    An interesting article about the use of “plea” versus “plead.” I agree entirely with you. But there is at least one other form to consider which may explain some of the misuse of “plea.” There is the formal “pleading,” a formal written statement filed with a court or other governmental entity which sets out the reasons for a lawsuit or other desired governmental action. The “pleading” is certainly a noun which logically supplements the “plea”taken by some one. But it also includes the necessary sense of an action taken by that same person.

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