1. 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.

2. A cause in court; a lawsuit; as, the Court of Common Pleas. See Common. "The Supreme Judicial Court shall have cognizance of pleas real, personal, and mixed." (Laws of Massachusetts)

3. That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in justification; an excuse; an apology. "Necessity, the tyrant's plea." "No plea must serve; 't is cruelty to spare." (Denham)

4. An urgent prayer or entreaty. Pleas of the crown, criminal actions.

Origin: OE. Plee, plai, plait, fr. OF. Plait, plaid, plet, LL. Placitum judgment, decision, assembly, court, fr. L. Placitum that which is pleasing, an opinion, sentiment, from placere to please. See Please, and cf. Placit, Plead.

(01 Mar 1998)

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