A plea is what you make when you're begging for something with a sense of urgency and emotion. While you wouldn't call asking for a hall pass a plea, you could make a plea for justice or world peace.

Plea also has a legal meaning. When you get a traffic ticket or if you're accused of a crime, you have to enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty." A "plea bargain" is when you make a deal with the prosecutor — you may plead guilty to a charge (by entering a guilty plea) that has less of a penalty and, in return, the prosecutor drops the more serious charge.

Definitions of plea
  1. noun
    a humble request for help from someone in authority
    synonyms: supplication
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    type of:
    appeal, entreaty, prayer
    earnest or urgent request
  2. noun
    an answer indicating why a suit should be dismissed
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    type of:
    due process, due process of law
    (law) the administration of justice according to established rules and principles; based on the principle that a person cannot be deprived of life or liberty or property without appropriate legal procedures and safeguards
  3. noun
    (law) a defendant's answer by a factual matter (as distinguished from a demurrer)
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    a plaintiff's reply to a defendant's plea
    dilatory plea
    a plea that delays the action without settling the cause of action; it can challenge the jurisdiction or claim disability of the defendant etc. (such defenses are usually raised in the defendant's answer)
    insanity plea, plea of insanity
    (criminal law) a plea in which the defendant claims innocence due to mental incompetence at the time
    type of:
    the principal pleading by the defendant in response to plaintiff's complaint; in criminal law it consists of the defendant's plea of `guilty' or `not guilty' (or nolo contendere); in civil law it must contain denials of all allegations in the plaintiff's complaint that the defendant hopes to controvert and it can contain affirmative defenses or counterclaims
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