In a courtroom, the plaintiff is the person or group who is accusing another person or group of some wrongdoing. If you’re the plaintiff, you are claiming that a law was broken, and you’re in court to present your case.

The plaintiff accuses, the defendant tries to prove that accusation wrong. You’ve seen this relationship on television shows about lawyers, or maybe you’ve been to court yourself. The Old French root word translates as “complain” and the Latin root is literally “beating of the breast,” or explaining your grief in a dramatic way. Plaintiff shares roots with the adjective plaintive, which describes a sorrowful sound. The plaintiff made a plaintive cry when the defendant was declared not guilty.

Definitions of plaintiff

n a person who brings an action in a court of law

defendant, suspect
a person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law; the person being sued or accused
petitioner, suer
someone who petitions a court for redress of a grievance or recovery of a right
Type of:
litigant, litigator
(law) a party to a lawsuit; someone involved in litigation

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