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Pled versus pleaded

Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?

  • July 24, 2009
  • Posted by stan
  • Filed in Usage

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Of course the problem is that is is grammatically a real puzzle:

The question popularly asked in court is "How do you plea?"
The answer is "I plead" innocent or guilty (at least in most cases.)

The proper form of past tense for "plea" would certainly be "pled" not "pleaed". If one considers the root to be "plea", then "pleaded" is some oddly redundant construction. If you consider "plead" to be the root, then "pleaded" may be correct.

Of course, the wrench in the works is that "plea" is a noun, the verb is "plead." While we have a general tendency to conjugate nouns (after all, I googled my way here), that doesn't make it correct.

However, when we look at similar verbs, we quickly see that the past tense of read is "read" (pronounced "red") and the past tense of "lead" is "led." If you add to that meet/met, feed/fed, and the like, it is hard to see any undue confusion here. Leaving the past tense of "plead" as "pled" directly conforms to the pattern of at least one other common verb, thereby following the rule, not creating yet another exception.

Then again, we could go with he rules of "tread" which is arguably the closest thing: that would mean that "plea" is gone in favor of "plead", and the past tense becomes "plod"; oops, that one's taken, too.

I humbly submit "pled" should be preferred above "pleaded" rather than adopting "leaded," which is how you spell the phonetic word "leded" (see lead[2].)

Dad the Dictionary March 8, 2011, 9:06am

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@Douglas Bryant - I find it disheartening and sad that our news organizations feel the need to "adapt to the global marketplace" instead of using correct grammar and setting a higher standard. I actually get goosebumps when I hear someone say "that's so fun!" as our local news anchor did recently.

I remember, when I was a child, even Ralph Cramden on the Honeymooners used correct English - if he didn't, Alice corrected him. People used to strive to speak well and properly. That isn't the case anymore.

Our youth cannot spell or write and they certainly cannot speak properly. Our media is very much to blame for this as they "adapt" instead of lead the way. It is yet another black mark against our school systems in the US that these university graduates (and they almost always are if they are practicing journalists) have managed to obtain a degree without first obtaining an education.

A rerun of a foolish sitcom was on last night and the running gag of the show was the majority of the friends making fun of one whenever he spoke well, quoted literature, or referenced something other than drinking beer, chasing women, and "robot wrestling." I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel.

lloyola August 24, 2010, 10:37am

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Personally, it drives me nuts... It's become like nails on a chalkboard. Every time I hear it or read pleaded, I liken it to someone saying "I runned-ed away".

Laura April 8, 2011, 3:44am

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Here hear! I hearded the shifted use of the passeded tense, too. And I don'ted liked it then, and I still don't likeded it now. To my ears, it sounded do much like an "Ebonics" form of translation. I vote to drop it, in favor of "pled" (or maybe pronounced as such, but spelled [or spelt] "plead"). Was that well saided?

Uncle Bob April 13, 2011, 4:06pm

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I noticed this irritating change (pled to pleaded) around the time of OJ, the Menendez Brothers, and the advent of "Court TV". It seems to have been a conspiracy in the media to all shift usage at once. This irritates me almost as much as “pre-owned”.

Okay, a language is living and breathing (and wheezing and coughing) entity. I get that. But speaking for myself, I will *never* accept “pleaded” in any context.

Of course, I must disclose that I grew up with, and still use an old English form that can be demonstrated by the words “gotten” and “boughten”. I also am recognized (derided?) for having a penchant for creating new words and idiomatic phrases which should exist but that do not. So take my pled/pleaded song and dance with a shaker of salt.

letitbedissected January 11, 2011, 3:04pm

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This has been driving me crazy for a few years, along with the phrase,"revert back to"; (how many times are you returning?) and the use of the word "a" in the place of the word "an". "An" will be the next word to disappear. I hear the media skipping over it on a regular basis as well as everyone promising to send someone a e-mail. Nails on the chalkboard for me!

LizzieB June 7, 2011, 8:22am

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I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I started to notice this shift (i.e., pled to pleaded, etc.) a couple of years ago. I decided to Google for an "answer" and here I am. I am equally irritated with lighted versus lit. This change is inconsistent insofar as we don't use readed in place of read ... and so on. Who started this shift anyway?

Roger March 15, 2011, 11:53pm

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Pled should be the correct form of the word used. Pleaded doesn't sound correct and until recently was not used most often. I don't care what any of the so called "professional word" people state. It's common sense, not rocket science.

harleycowgirl May 31, 2011, 9:00am

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While we're at it, how about another of my pet peeves? The word "the". It's pronounced "th-uh" before a hard consonant, but pronounced "th-ee" before an open vowel sound. As in:

Thuh beginning
Thee end

When I hear "thuh end", I think I'm listening to a two year old. I really cringe when it comes from one of my kids' teachers.

porsche June 7, 2011, 12:27pm

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I was taught "pled" growing up in the 90s. "Pleaded" sounds like something a kid would say when they haven't learned the proper usage yet.

Chris L August 22, 2011, 9:09pm

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As one who drafts opinions daily, this is a subject of great interest.
Most (if not all) the balance of my nine-member intermediate Court of Appeals
uses "pleaded". All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom as counsel to either the State or the citizen accused.
I've insisted my staff use "pled". But, let's face it, it looks weird.
I'm with Uncle Bob (April 13, 2011, 8:06pm)...and think it makes best sense to use "pled", pronounce it "pled" and spell it "plead".

Justice Jim April 26, 2011, 3:24pm

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I don't agree that "pled" is less emotional than "pleaded." I think they carry equal "emotional" weight, if any. Only context can increase or decrease the emotional impact of either, as in your on-his-knees example.

In the context of legal defense, Merriam-Webster defines "plea" as:

(1) : a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's declaration in common-law practice
(2) : an accused person's answer to a charge or indictment in criminal practice

To plead, in this sense, is simply to enter a plea. No begging is implied. Regarding the past tense of "plead," Bryan A. Garner, in his excellent A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, has the following to say:

"Traditionally speaking, 'pleaded' is the best past-tense and past participle form."


"'Pled,' dating from the 16th century, is nearly obsolete in British English, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in American English, though it is a common variant in legal usage."

That the word "pled" has fallen out of favor is unlikely part of some “grammar correctness” putsch. It seems far more likely that American news organizations are simply adapting to the global marketplace by adopting the more widely accepted usage.

douglas.bryant August 11, 2009, 6:17pm

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I looked this up because I wanted to know for sure. So obviously I have only preference to fall on. I giggle at some of the comments on the redundant sound of pleaded... Like runned-ed. Everyone knows it's ranned-ed :)

Indeed plea is the root of plead, but plea is a noun, and cannot be conjugated. So I can't really 'hear' the redundancy of pleaded unless it's pronounced pled-ed, because plead (pleed) is not plea-ed. Confused yet.
I'm not saying one is right and the other is wrong, I just can't find a straight answer. It's all a matter of opinion

Sure read and read, lead and led, bleed and bled...
What about need and ned, heed and hed, seed and sed? Oh wait...

InFact May 13, 2011, 10:24am

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Many years ago in Canada, where I went to school, the present and past tense were both "lead." The past tense was not spelt (spelled?) "led." Also, the present and past tense were both "plead." We never heard (heared?) nor read "pleaded" or "pled."

Brock Murdoch June 22, 2011, 12:56pm

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@lloyola - How ironic that your post extolling the virtues of grammatical correctness would itself contain a grammatical error. The correct usage is "our media ARE," not "our media IS." The word "media" is the plural form of "medium."

And the name is spelled Kramden, not Cramden.

Alice Kramden June 28, 2011, 11:41am

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Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

Jan June 15, 2011, 7:32pm

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'bepleden crys' is definitely more poetic therefore emotional than 'bepleaded crys'

Stanmund April 14, 2011, 10:01am

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@JusticeJim ... Pet peeve alert! ... "All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom..." Hold out your hand and let me slap it! "Myself" is wrong, no matter which way you look at it ... and you need commas to clarify. Here's a quick webpage on reflexive pronouns:

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 4:26pm

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@Marian ... of course pled is a word. But in case you don't believe me:

From M-W:
plead, verb \ˈplēd\
plead·ed\ˈplē-dəd\ or *** pled ***also plead\ˈpled\plead·ing ... ***emphasis mine.

If that isn't enuff ... It's worth seven points in Scrabble

AnWulf September 18, 2011, 11:37am

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As a child in Canada, I was taught that "plead" and "plead" [pled] were both present and past tense, similar to "read" and "read" [red], and to "lead" and "lead" [led]. I suppose this is just the difference between the British way of speaking and spelling and the American way. Of course, it is their language.

Brock Murdoch August 13, 2011, 12:22pm

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@Ann ... When you gave your class the assignment to correct the "grammar errors" in sentences, did any of them redefine the assignment, i.e. to correct the "grammatical errors" in sentences? Can a noun describe another noun? Not yet. But, "the times, they are a changin'." I just had to sneak this in. The Devil made me do it.

Harry October 21, 2011, 11:26am

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They weren't wrong to do so.

From OE: snîcan to sneak along, creep, crawl, ['snike']
snícan Strong sv/i1 ... a strong verb changes the vowel in the past tense!
ic sníce present
ic snác past
ic gesnicen part.

My ME wordbook doesn't conjugate it. However we know it was a strong verb coming out of OE so it isn't surprising to find that many continued to change the vowel in the past tense. I could argue, etymologically speaking, that snuck is more correct than sneaked.

Regardless, snuck is acceptable. And I prefer it.

sneak verb \ˈsnēk\
sneaked or snuck, sneak·ing

Definition of SNEAK

intransitive verb
1: to go stealthily or furtively : slink <snuck out early>
2: to act in or as if in a furtive manner
3: to carry the football on a quarterback sneak

transitive verb
: to put, bring, or take in a furtive or artful manner <sneak a smoke>
— sneak up on
: to approach or act on stealthily

Usage Discussion of SNEAK

From its earliest appearance in print in the late 19th century as a dialectal and probably uneducated form, the past and past participle snuck has risen to the status of standard and to approximate equality with sneaked. It is most common in the United States and Canada but has also been spotted in British and Australian English.

Examples of SNEAK

They tried to sneak into the movie without paying.
She sneaked some cigars through customs.
He snuck a few cookies out of the jar while his mother wasn't looking.
They caught him trying to sneak food into the theater.
Can I sneak a peek at your quiz answers?

AnWulf September 9, 2011, 7:23pm

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From OED: plead |plēd|
verb ( past pleaded or pled |pled|) ... interesting that the online "world" version of OED lists pled as North American or Scottish ... regardless, it lists the word so therefore, it exists.

From OED: pled |pled|
past and past participle of plead

So the word exists and is an acceptable past tense. As I pointed out above, plead is a Latinate and the normal is for outlander words (verbs) to be treated as a weak verb. But this one wasn't and hasn't been for many, many years.

From OED: dive |dīv|
verb ( past dived or dove |dōv|; past part. dived) [ intrans. ]

Pled and dove are acceptable past tenses.

AnWulf October 4, 2011, 5:40am

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Leapt vs leaped, crept vs creeped, trod vs treaded, lead vs leaded, the trend is indeed vexacious.

Mark Champney June 21, 2011, 12:43pm

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I calmly count to Ten when I hear the term "PLEADED".
I finally had the chance to ask a Lawyer what he thought about this issue.
He smiled and said that the talking head lawyers and commentators on TV are F@$KTEDED!!

douginyyz October 4, 2011, 1:00pm

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@Alice ... Let me consult my medium circa materiam ... Hmmmm, she's says that treating media as a collective noun has been around since the 1920s and that it and data both can take a singular verb.

The general rule of thumb is that once a loanword is taken into a language then that language can, and usually does, treat it according to its own grammar rules and usage. It may be plural in Latin but it can be used as a collective noun in English. We do the opposite with information. In English it is a singular noun with no plural (we don't say informations) ... We took it from French ... and there is a plural in French!

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 4:37pm

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A curious thing.... I happened on this in searching for some background for some advice I was preparing to give a non-native English speaker regarding a piece he'd written. In it, he had written that a character "bargained, plead and cajoled with" another character. I started off trying to communicate that cajoling is something that the actor does alone - one doesn't cajole with someone - one merely cajoles someone. But then I got lost on "plead." It was obvious that he needed the past tense, but which one? To my thinking, "pled" works better on its own, while "pleaded" works better with the prepositional phrase - one pled, or one pleaded with another. I wasn't certain though that that was the case, so I went out onto the web looking for some sort of verification. Instead, I found this, so I thought I'd just drop it in here for comment.

Arlo August 13, 2011, 10:39am

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Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

Jan June 15, 2011, 7:33pm

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I suspect this occured because writers in the newspaper business could not remember how pled should be spelled, so they decided that it was easier to take the safe route and spell it pleaded.

Mark Spitzer December 24, 2011, 6:35am

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Wow, I've been thinking it was me. I'm so happy to realize I'm not alone. It's gotten to the point that when I see the word 'pleaded' I change it to 'pled'. I've even had argument about it tonight. I just cringe at the way our language is being destroyed just to make it 'easier' for others to butcher it.

Why Cares February 9, 2012, 4:26pm

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I teach in a graduate program and gave my students a writing skills test. They were supposed to correct grammar errors in sentences. More than half the students thought that "sneaked" (as in "she sneaked into the house after her curfew") was incorrect and changed it to "snuck." Argh.

Ann September 9, 2011, 1:15am

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Quoting the 2009 edition of a preeminent reference called MODERN AMERICAN USAGE's entry titled PLEADED; PLED; PLEAD (which cites American sources for all those examples pronouncing it a colloquialism or slang), seems relevant to the topic at hand.

The use of "pled" in American English gained some ground circa the 1950s, but that form is both newer and lesser used in this country than the predominant "pleaded"; the claim that pleaded is either ungrammatical, newfangled, or incorrect has no basis. While pled is common enough, it is in fact the upstart and less used variant here in the States.

"Correct" and "proper" or even "prevailing American usage" are rather slim (if not false) defenses of pled. "Sounds funny," however, is a perfectly fine personal motivation.

editirixrex February 16, 2012, 6:02am

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There's no such thing as "correct" English. All languages change and adapt. Read English from 50, 100, 500, or 1000 years ago and you'll know what I mean. This is just a small example of one of those changes. I wonder what it was like when English began to lose its gender distinctions. The older generation probably got upset, but the younger folks just talked how they felt comfortable and didn't give a rat's ass.

AndyAlm October 3, 2011, 10:30pm

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You are using an American dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary says "pleaded, North American English also pled."

Marian October 4, 2011, 4:32am

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So what's the past tense of to dive? It is dived, not dove - that's a bird.
Past tense of sneak is sneaked.

Marian October 4, 2011, 4:33am

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I am really pleased to catch on to your much earlier correspondence on "sneak" and "snuck". As emigres returned Scotsmen, regularly visiting the ancestors in the Highlands, we amuse each other there on winter or rainy nights by conversing in wide-ranging variations on Standard English, telling tales maybe, for example, about how grandpa snuck grandma into the cinema without paying, using this wonderful word, picked up in 1950s Southern Africa, from what we assume is American. We also talk about torriential rain (pronounced torry-en-shul) because one of said it as a child and we thought it was funny, like "anyweny" in place of "anyway". You may shake your heads in disapproval, but in Celtic circles we do this sort of thing for fun. And drink whisky. Which may explain it.

Brus February 17, 2012, 11:00am

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OK, finally to the post itself. While I like pled, etymologically speaking, it should be pleaded. Why? Because it is yet another Latinate from French and, typically, imported verbs or verbs made from imported nouns are weak verbs. However, this was made to fit a strong verb pattern likely do to the sound as others have pointed out. So, both past tenses are valid and correct. I like pled and will stick to it.

There is another imported French Latinate that also has an alternate strong ending ... prove ... The past participle can be proved or proven. I prefer proven but both are correct.

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 4:58pm

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Without reading through all the posts here...

My theory is that reading the past tense "plead" off a teleprompter while presenting the news is likely to cause the talking heads to misread it and say the present tense "plead" instead. "Pleaded" (it hurts me to even type that) is obviously much less likely to be misread.

Maybe the spelling should be changed to "pleed" (like "bleed") and "pled" (like "bled"). Bleed/bled don't seem to give people any trouble. Or even "plead" and "pled", maybe?

Desdamona September 14, 2011, 7:46pm

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Or is this a singular VS plural issue?
He plead
they pleaded?
But then i am dyslexic.. I think i spent around 4 terms in collage to get past freshman comp.. so take what i say with several grains of salt.

Milo the Bum August 6, 2011, 12:18pm

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AnWulf - due?

mmmmmom September 1, 2011, 7:43am

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I'm with you. Pleaded does seem to imply some grovelling and in a legal case particularly, there should be no bias. It is simply the the plea which is subject to proof.

Lionel September 1, 2011, 1:33pm

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"Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views"

I realize you may not have tried to make that comment sound as ignorant as it does; it is true America is the country with the largest population of English speakers. The problem is that this statement presumes that America has one common dialect, a presumption which isn't even close to accurate. By that logic, one may conclude that India, the second largest population of English speakers, with about one fifth the number of dialects represented in the USA, is statistically "far more important" than "minority" US dialects.

Why Bother February 16, 2012, 6:28pm

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@AnWulf - good to see you doing your bit for international understanding by using what I understood to be a Britishism - 'spot on'. (Although I think the hyphenated spot-on before a noun is American). :)

Good point about the derivation of pled. And there's a distinct pattern - lead > led, feed > fed, read > read, as others pointed near the beginning of this post.

Warsaw Will June 15, 2013, 1:02am

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Pled is not a word.

Marian September 18, 2011, 10:06am

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Reply to lloyola:
"I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel."

This year, I have become quite annoyed by numerous factual and grammatical errors in lots of programs on The History Channel. Many of the programs are clearly cheaply made, and they are cheaply made in countries like the U.K., Ireland, and South Africa. The owners of The History Channel are also too cheap to have new narrations written and produced to replace the (factually) erroneous and poorly-spoken ones that came with the cheap shows.

Hence, we in North America are also stuck with narrations that say, "The team are...", "The crew are....", and "The team decided....". Yikes. Clearly, a team cannot decide anything because a team does not have a mind or a brain. The leadership of the team does have a mind and a brain, so it can made decisions, but the producers of those programs are too lazy to have the narrator say, "The leader of the team decided," or "The leadership of the team decided."

You better watch out for that infernal, imprecise British English. They say things like "The Government are", and they call a whole ship of the navy a "who" rather than an "it" or a "she".

I reply to all of those people that "Pie are round and cornbread are square...."
If you don't recognize this punchline of a joke, do look it up on the Internet or ask some people about it -- preferably mathematicians and engineers.

D. A. Wood November 7, 2011, 5:52pm

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{t may be "old-fashioned, but then so am I. I go with "pled."

William J Upper May 27, 2016, 3:32am

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I guess it's my age 81, but fought rather than fit or fighted as past tense for fight seems right to me. However, lit rather than lighted as past tense for light seems right to me. I guess to be consistent Joshua should have fit the battle of Jericho as the song says. I certainly do not go along with lighted or fighted although I have never heard fighted. Of course, I am a fan of fled over fleeded and pled over pleaded although my spell checker is not.

William Hagerbaumer June 15, 2016, 11:10pm

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In court, it is common for attorneys and judges to state someone "pled guilty" in the past. I was a criminal prosecutor as well as defense attorney for years and I rarely heard the utterance, "pleaded," in oral discourse. I'm not sure what global marketplace carries more weight than daily use in the courtroom.

Allan Lolly July 19, 2016, 9:32am

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Bryan Garner, quoted earlier, author of both Modern American Usage and editor of Black's Law Dictionary for over 20 years, is an excellent guide. Recapping somewhat, for those under the impression that pleaded is somehow newfangled when what they really mean is that the word sounds irksome to them:

"Traditionally speaking, pleaded is the best past-tense and past-participial form. Commentators on usage have long said so, pouring drops of vitriol onto 'has pled' and 'has plead':

[Then he cites usage books from 1893, 1905, 1906, 1926 "The past tense is pleaded. The use of pled or plead is colloquial", 1928, 1940, 1943. All of which fall rule pled as either wrong or slang.]

"The problem with these strong pronouncements . . . is that pled and plead have gained some standing in AmE, as noted in the 1950s: 'In the United States pleaded and pled are both acceptable. . . . In Great Britiain, only the form pleaded is used and pled is considered an Americanism.

"Indeed, pled . . . is nearly obsolete in BrE, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in AmE . . . though it is a quite common variant. . . .

"Still, pleaded is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and is always the best choice. . . ."

So, plead is a regular verb as of the 13th century, but 300 years later there was introduced the dialectical form and it was sometimes an irregular verb, which has lingered, dropped out of British English almost entirely, but gained a toehold in American English around the 1950s. Even so, it remains a lesser variant.

editirixrex February 16, 2012, 4:54am

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No, you enter a plea by pleading, as oppose to pleaing. Plea is the noun and plead is the verb. But it's an understandably confusing word

InFact. January 7, 2012, 9:32am

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A reporter for NBC - TV news in the U.S.A. said this morning:

"He has pled not guilty to charges of ..."

The sweet sound of good, concise English, well spoken, entered my ears!
This was a reporter who is based in Los Agneles, but he was reporting on events in Washington State.

There is no need to use two or three-syllable words when one-syllable words work just as well in their places.

This reminds me of people -- whom I brand as attempted CHROME DOMES -- who say and write "individuals" (five syllables) now, when "people" (two syllables) works just as well, if not significantly better.

Likewise, they say and write "individual" (five syllables) when "person" (two syllables) significantly better.

Then, there are those people in law enforcement, etc., who say "gentleman" when "jackass", "cretin", or "slopehead" are a lot more appropriate to the situation.
"Neanderthal" would also fit, but that is a four-syllable word.

There was the man who was very rude to Taylor Swift, and then - away from microphones - President Obama was overheard calling him a "jackass". That word was so appropriate to the situation that nobody could complain, except for the five percent of people who will complain about anything.


D. A. Wood April 7, 2012, 1:34am

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That problem with speakers and writers, especially British ones, not being able to distinguish between singular and plural is an especially ghastly one.

Here is an example that I read in a news article recently:
A group of about 10 trapped miners had already been identified as being all men. Then, a paragraph or two further down came a statement like "One of the rescued miners died on their way to the hospital." Holy hell. He died on HIS way to the hospital.

Another news article that was from the United States told of a driver who abandoned HIS passengers on an intercity bus. A couple of paragraphs down, the driver was identified as a woman. So SHE abandoned HER passengers. What happened in detail was that she parked her bus in a small town, where someone picked her up in a car and drove away, never to return. So her passengers were abandoned in a small town somewhere, rather than being taken to St. Louis, as promised when they bought their tickets.

Getting back to "pled": Shorter, one-syllable verbs are always better and more efficient than multisyllable verbs, just as long as their meanings are clear.
Hence: { pled, lit, ate, bit, dug, fought, rode, sung, and wore }

We do not need verbs like {pleaded, lighted, eated, fighted, rided, and singed}, because they are inefficiently long in syllables. This is besided the fact that "singed" has a totally different meaning. I have seen humorous copies of old ads that say, "Would you like your beard singed?"

No, thank you, I do not want any fire anywhere near my face!


D. A. Wood February 16, 2012, 1:12pm

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Hello, "Why Bother",
It sounds like you never have met many Indian people in person, I have.

1. Many Indians, Pakistanis, etc., THINK that they speak English, but they do not.I have heard this with my own ears, and they are incomprehensible. BROKEN English does not count as "speaking English".

2. The vast majority of such people (as above) do not speak English as their primary language. They simply do not. Broken English is their second, third, or fourth language. Broken English does not count.

3. In Western countries like the United States, Canada, and ,maybe more, it has been necessary to create a standardized and thorough test called the TESL = Test of English as a Spoken Language to be given to all overseas students who come here for graduate school and professional schools in colleges and universities, and some of the others, too. NOT passing the TESL rules out those students from employment as assistant teachers of undergraduate students, or from professional programs in medicine, dentistry, etc. -- because they are unable to communicate clearly with their genuinely English-speaking students, patients, and colleagues. Sorry, but many of them could go to school here, but they cannot earn money by working at their schools. Many cannot afford to pay for their schooling.

4. At many different American colleges & universities, there are intensive programs in English (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) for undergraduate and graduate students who come here for education, but their proficiency in English is very low. Many of these came here from Asia, with the dominint groups being from India, China, and Southeast Asia. Those programs in English are time-consuming, taking about a year before the students can pass the TESL and go on into their chosen majors.

5. I am an American, but I know all about being a graduate student and the travails of many overseas students. I have been a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech, and the University of Alabama myself, and after that, I have been a full-time faculty member in Maryland, Illinois, and Arizona. Hence, I have known a lot of foreign students, especially ones from India, and I have witnessed their struggles with English. What they said was often incomprehensible.

6. Personally, I knew a fellow faculty member, originally from India, who when he had arrived in the U.S. years ago was fluent in Telegu and Malayam, BUT he told me that back then his English was No Bloody Good (NBG), even though he has studied it in school back home. Nobody here could understand what he was saying. Hence, as he told me, he had to learn real English from scratch, in parallel with all of his other undergraduate courses. He could understand, but he could not speak it.
He did well because he earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in electrical engineerig in Illinois, and then he found a teaching position in Missouri. He has now been an American citizen for a number of years, and he is married, too.
It all took a lot of hard work on his part, and he has told me that now English is his favorite language -- and he has to mentlly "shift gears" to speak anything else, such as with his mother, father, and brother.

Finally, so summarize again, speaking broken or incomprehensible English does not count!

D.A.W. .

D. A. Wood February 17, 2012, 1:08am

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@AndyAlm ... Just because that the rules can change doesn't mean there isn't a "correct" English. Otherwise, the tongue will fall asunder into sundry tongues as happened to Latin after Rome had fallen or happened to Anglo-Saxon after the Takeover. English has a lot of room in its rules for flexibility (such as pled, pleaded) but it does have rules!

You have trouble reading stuff from 100 years ago? That's likely just a wordstock problem.

If you don't know the spelling of 500 years ago, I can see how that might be a little hard. Otherwise, it is just the wordstock that might trip you up. Many of those words are still in the wordbooks, just not used nowadays ... like anfald (one-fold ... simple), umbe (around), both as standalone preposition and a forefast (prefix) as um-, wanhope (despair) ... forefast wan- (lacking) +hope, wantrust (distrust), asf.

Going back 1,000 years takes one to the fore-Takeover (pre-Conquest) days when Latinates were few, pronunciation and grammar rules were unlike today, and there were sundry dialects tho grammar anfaldness (one-foldness - simplification) was happening albeit slowly. That takes some swoting! lol

AnWulf October 4, 2011, 5:08am

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I've been wondering what happened to "pled" also. "Pleaded", to me, sounds retarded and lacking sophistication. I've also been noticing other words being "dumbed down" in a similar fashion. It saddens as well as aggravates.

Bass February 17, 2016, 2:09pm

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Pled is most certainly a word.

Pled: past participle, past tense of plead (Verb)
Verb: Make an emotional appeal. Present and argue for (a position), esp. in court or in another public context.

Direct from the dictionary. Pleaded drives me insane when I see or hear it. I will stick to pled thank you very much.

Kaelathira January 13, 2012, 6:22am

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D.A. Wood,

You have made some valid points and have expressed opinions formulated from legitimate experiences. I'm not trying to attack you. I was making a comment on your statement based on statistics of English speaking populations and recognized dialects, and I was exaggerating the truth just as much as it seemed you had in that specific point.

I have met many Indians, several who speak better English as their second language than many North American born, first language English speakers, and that is neither more nor less valid than your experience.

I've seen no evidence to support the notion that the vast majority of any English speaking country's population speaks a standardized English, whether as their first language or otherwise. Communications and exposure have helped immensely in unifying dialect, but you don't have to drive very far to hear variations, and that doesn't mean the people who don't live in your state are wrong or uneducated, they've just accepted a slightly different regional standard.

We're all language lovers in this thread, I'm sure. Those who don't care probably wouldn't be here. I'm for proper English as we all are. But I recognize that absolute rigidity is not a reasonable or attainable goal. The standard must have room. English is not the same today as it was in some centuries old rule book, nor will it be, in years to come, the same as rules today. Dictionaries are revised, and language evolves. English has adopted many words from other languages, brought to it no doubt equally by speakers of broken English. Groups you may have dismissed a little too quickly brought us words like "grammar."

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

Perhaps not. There are already huge differences, so why go back? But it's this room for growth and the acceptance of the regional standard that allowed this to happen in the first place. Otherwise, somewhere today, an American teacher would be adding a u in red ink to the word "color."

Why Bother February 18, 2012, 6:10am

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This subject has been bothering me for about 2 years. I asked some of my friends, all college grads, they acted as if they didn't notice any change. So I finally googled it and found myself here, surprise, surprise! I am not the only one bothered by this shift from "pled" to "pleaded."

Surprised November 15, 2012, 10:38am

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So, should we expect "he bled to death" to become "he bleeded to death"?

Mary G December 8, 2017, 4:11pm

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I once knew a man from Indonesia who had lived in the United States for years. He was earning a B.S. at the college where I taught, and he was the husband of one of the other members of the faculty.

He told me that his parents spoke Dutch at home, and of course there is a national Indonesian language, too, which is the language of schools, businesses, government, etc.

He laughingly added that he spoke three languages: Broken Dutch, Broken Indonesian, and Broken English !! Somehow, he could make himself understood here.

I also taught electronics engineering to an old, white-headed Vietnamese man. His
English was nearly incomprehensible, but I noticed that when he was speaking with students from places like Morocco and Algeria, he spoke fluent French, and so did they. So, for them, French was their lingua franca.

Oddly, after the Communists took over South Vietnam, they sent the old man to a "re-education camp". After many months there, the Communists decided that "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," so they let him go. Then, he and his children made it to the U.S. as refugees. Next, when I taught him two courses, he was very close to completing his B.S. in electronics engineering, so he wasn't such an "old dog" after all.

I was lucky in that in both of the classes that I taught him, his daughter was a student, too. Whenever the Dad asked a question in very broken English, and I stood there with a blank look on my face, his daughter would "translate" his question into her fluent English. Then I could answer it -- and he understood English well. I look at what he did as quite courageous because his English was so bad.

I had way, way too many student who refused to ask any questions even when they didn't understand something -- and I made it abundently clear that I believed that asking questions and getting answers was a GREAT way to learn. I encouraged it. I usually answered questions then and there, but occasionally I had to say either
1. We will talk about that after class, or
2. That is a great item for graduate school. (And undergraduates do not have the background for it.)


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 6:54am

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It is well-known among linguists and child psychologists that most small children (ages two through four, or so), go through a period when they think that all verbs are regular verbs.
I noticed the same thing about my own daughter when she was two or three.
Learning about irregular verbs come a little later.

This is why small children say things like { breaked, comed, doned, eated, flyed (two syllables), gived (two syllables), growed, knowed, maked, runned, singed (two syllables), taked, telled ...}

Oddly, we have college and high school graduates nowadays who are stuck at the same level with such words as { flyed, growed, layed, pleaded, sayed,...}

I wish that I had $5.00 for every time an adult said or wrote "layed" insted of "lain" and "laying" instead of "lying".
This is despite the fact that "layed" and "laying" have "off-color" meaning.

Just think of this statement by a woman, "I was laying on the beach all morning."
Well, at least that one sounds like a lot of fun and a pleasant experience.
My question is just, "With how many men?"


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 7:16am

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Brus, if I may suggest, using "which" instead of "that" really doesn't clear up any ambiguity suggesting that the Air Force has lost a beach. Instead, I would suggest the following phrasing: "the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost, washed up on the beach."

Oh, and while we're at it, I think that in this case, "that" is preferred over "which". Traditionally, "that" is used in a restrictive sense, while "which" is used in a non-restrictive sense. Presumably, the Air Force has lots of jet packs. The one mentioned is a particular jet pack, identified restrictively, as having been lost, so "that" would be appropriate.

porsche March 21, 2012, 12:30pm

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@Bob Foster - Being Scottish, where it is also used in court, I have no objection to 'pled', indeed rather like it. But on a point of information, or however you lawyers put it, although it may have a King James Bible sound, it doesn't actually appear in the KJV, whereas 'pleaded' does, three times. :)

Warsaw Will April 26, 2014, 8:10am

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It occurred to me last night that some people do not know the humor behind
"There's no fuel like an old fuel."

This is a twist on a saying that has been around for centuries:
"There's no fool like an old fool."

Old fools do things like these: spending a lot of their money on much-younger women; telling false tales about their younger days; trying to grab too much power; spending a lot of their money on alcoholic beverages; spending a lot of their money on fast sports cars; eating too much; going out and catching VD; et cetera.
I think that you should get the picture.

I have known a good number of old fools in my life!
I just don't want to become one!

D. A. Wood March 24, 2012, 5:37am

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Well I just wanted to say that Proper Grammar is a lie there is no such thing, and we shouldn't conform to it we should get rid of it altogether.

Sombody123 April 14, 2016, 8:51pm

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I will continue to use pled. It just sound better. When I hear the media using pleaded it irritates me almost as much as hearing "who'd a thunk". I know my sixth grade teacher is rolling over in her grave over that one! She made us stand and recite any word she called out in all tenses or we had to stay after school and write them a number of times. Only when she was satisfied that we knew how to properly use tenses, did we get to go home. I am fairly positive that she would have said pled is correct. Who would have thought it would become an issue to be debated..oh yes, who'd a thunk it?

SusanE February 1, 2012, 9:46am

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In using your opening phrase - I hope you don't mind - I'm afraid I have to.............I do actually have to disagree with you - too.
Having covered many hundreds of thousands of miles as an HGV driver - over more decades that I care to remember - across the UK and elsewhere, I've experienced many takes on the pronunciation of said places: Middlesborough is four not three syllables as is Edinburgh. Maybe pockets of the country have slightly different pronunciations- Kircuddy would confuse all but the locals - but the majority has to rule, or there would be much confusion and woe.
Listen to any TV newscaster to hear how they butcher place names.
There has to be consensus. That being so, I suppose we'll just have to agree to differ:
I offer no such concessions to the likes of DAW, though.
You may disagree as is your right, but my experience of many other folk's take on the pronunciations is how I've said - and I agree with them.
Anyone's personal idea is just that - not a majority view: nor is is just poncy Englishmen who appear to speak in a bizarre manner.
If I had a pound for every inaccuracy I've spotted on there, then I'd have enough for a nice long holiday in the Cairngorms!

Les R August 17, 2012, 11:20am

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I don't believe what Editirixrex said one bit. Also, it is beside the point. The original question was raised about what is said on AMERICAN TV STATIONS, so British English is irrelevant here in this discussion. Why is it that you felt like going off on a tangent?

To top it off, the Americans and the Canadians have the British and the Irish outnumbered by a very wide margin. Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views.

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

From reading Australian newspapers, I have also seen that Australians are far more likely to adopt words from American English than from the others. For example, I saw the word "yuppy" in the Sydney newspaper w/o any explantation for what that means because Australians already knew.


D. A. Wood February 16, 2012, 5:10am

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@Skeeter Lewis - I totally agree with you as far as England (and no doubt Wales) is concerned, but not for Scotland, at least not in the legal sense (we have a separate legal system):

"The defendant pled guilty to stealing the egg of an Arctic tern, possessing 30 wild birds eggs and possessing equipment capable of being used to commit wildlife crime offences." (Scottish Government website -

"Defendant pled no contest to transporting heroin" (

"Michael Voudouri pled guilty to charges last month" (Glasgow Herald -

'On sentencing Lord Glennie made the following statement in court: “You have pled guilty to a charge of attempted rape on the night of 11 September last year."' (

You can find many more examples by googling: "pled guilty" Scotland. Interestingly googling: "pleaded guilty" Scotland gets about the same amount of hits.

Warsaw Will December 22, 2012, 12:30am

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HLN is using the word plead "Joran Van Der Sloot will plead guilty... since he hasn't yet plead wouldn't it be he will plea guilty? I hate pleaded but this words is a tough cookie!!

RayAnn January 6, 2012, 3:17am

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I tend to use both "pled" and "pleaded" depending on the context.
"The accused pled not guilty."
"He pleaded with his sister not to tell mother."

I also prefer "sneaked" and "dived" to "snuck" and "dove" on the basis of both personal preference and the existence of like verbs such as streak/streaked, live/lived, heave/heaved, hive/hived, leak/leaked etc etc etc.

Hairy Scot June 23, 2012, 11:24am

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Hairy Scot June 23, 2012, 12:17pm

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"How do you plead?" - "He pleaded not guilty". Correct English. "I sentence you to be taken ...and hanged by the neck ..."
Not pled, not hung. English law court language. Pictures are hung, convicted criminals hanged.
Your correspondent says you have to cry or weep while pleading. That must be in the US. In England you just wring your cap in your hands, and look shifty and apologetic. In 1970s South Africa you tried not to make jokes or seem frivolous, but it was hard.

Brus February 16, 2012, 11:58am

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Thanks, Hairy Scot, for the warning about petty whatever you said. I am psychologically prepared for the shock of the blow if and when it falls.
In Scotland, as you know, there are so many variations on Standard English that there is a Scots dictionary - Scots is a different language, and great fun it is too. I have the dictionary and when in Scotland, as I am several times a year, I enjoy hearing the diverting vocabulary (which I look up afterwards, if necessary) and phraseology. In Invernessshire is the most wonderful quirk of all: when the speaker has just delivered a remark of self-considered great insight and wisdom, she (always a she) then concludes with "Aye, aha" (reflectively) while inhaling the words. Remarkable, and indeed unique. I can picture the scene in the dock now, in the courthouse in, say, Dalwhinnie: (exhale) "Not guilty, your majesty", (inhale), "aye, aha." Wonderful.

Brus June 23, 2012, 10:37pm

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I left God's country in 1981 and there are still some things that I miss.
One has to be aware that in Glasgow and the south-west some phrases should not be interpreted literally.
For example, if during a discussion someone says "Aye, very good" it does not mean that he is agreeing with you. It is in fact a subtle warning that you should choose your next words very very carefully.

Hairy Scot June 23, 2012, 11:13pm

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DAWood is right to talk about the terrible quality of English being used in Britain today. Errors involving number just for one: for example as you say, "the government are..."
The telephone will tell you "the caller did not leave their number" (whose number, who are these people with a number?). It is in every paragraph of every newspaper. The words "he, him, she and her" have all been replaced by "they" and "them". I believe the speakers' defence is that they do not wish to risk being seen as sexist. Instead, they prefer to remain incomprehensible. Even when the gender of the person is known. "The boy left their socks in the box". Whose socks? Who are the owners of these socks? Oh! the boy's! You mean "the boy left HIS socks ...".

Newsreaders, reporters, politicians. Written and spoken language. They don't care and tell you that you are a grumpy old pedant if you complain. Is it that bad in the USA? I doubt it. Frasier and Niles always get it right. or do they ...?

The occasional cock-up with "I" and "me", ... In England it is almost regarded as correct to say "Daphne invited Frasier and I to dinner". How about Frasier wasn't included: "Daphne invited I to dinner". I subject, me object.

It's bad, isn't it?

Brus February 16, 2012, 12:19pm

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I am one of those people who tries to find another way to say something in lieu of sounding offensive or ignorant. This is especially true if I am unsure of the audience.

Therefore, I give you: HE ENTERED A GUILTY PLEA.

'nough said??

angiesgirl May 23, 2012, 6:11am

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It's true that some people will try to sound more intelligent by attempting to be verbose. This can cause quite a distraction during conversation. I believe, by simply altering the sentence slightly, that a distraction can be avoided, and no one will then be left to argue over the usage. I think a good question would be: at what point do we slip from common sense into laziness? A few extra syllables, in a good-natured attempt to avoid confusion, argument, and distraction, couldn't be too much for anyone to handle, surely. I prefer a simple conversation also, but I don't like a lazy one. There is something to be said for grammar etiquette, and the fact remains that in my sentence, at least I will have the comfort of knowing that no one could be offended, and no one will later be debating over my usage instead of my topic.

He pleaded guilty.
He pled guilty.
He entered a guilty plea.

At least I know mine is correct, without doubt or debate.

angiesgirl May 23, 2012, 7:33am

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Also, strong dialects of English in the U.S. died out during the 1940s and 50s. The experience of World War II, the Korean War, and the advances in telecommunictation -- and especially television, killed them off.

Men and women who served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and those who moved (often long distances) across the country to work in defense factories had to start speaking a common, unified language. Then listening to the radio and watching TV cemented down the process.Watching motion picture helped, too. Everyone learned to understand what Clark Gable, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Jimmy Stewart were saying, and to imitate them, too.

Then, there was "Me Tarzan, you Jane", but that doesn't count!
D.A.W. .

D. A. Wood February 17, 2012, 1:18am

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I'm a 48 year old Englishman. I have NEVER heard the word pled as a past tense of plead until i was reading a Wikipedia article today. It looked so wrong I looked it up and ended up here.

In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded.

But I can see how it might annoy Americans. Then again, I hate hearing "He dove for the ball" instead of "He dived for the ball", "snuck" instead of "sneaked"...and there will be more examples.

In short, I cannot agree with our original poster, Stan, that "pleaded" is sub-standard English. To me it sounds like standard English.

Innit thoughs...

Jeff J January 7, 2014, 3:31am

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Jeff, of course you are right. It goes without saying. "The baker kneads the dough - he kned it the same way yesterday", "we dread paying the charge he'll put on it, but I suppose our forebears dred the price they were asked, too"," it's my turn to weed the flowerbed because you wed it last week" all very poor, really. pled is no better.

I'd blame the Americans; we usually do. the Scots are very sloppy about this too, although we usually do much better than the English in linguistic matters, because it is not our native tongue.

Brus January 7, 2014, 6:44am

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@Jeff J - "In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded." - Scotland is, at least for the moment, still part of the UK, and as has already been mentioned, 'pled' is often used in the legal sense, but not the begging sense in Scotland - He pled guilty but he pleaded for his life. For examples see my comment of December 22, 2012, 5:30am, or go just Google it: you'll find that many of the results are from official bodies or news outlets:

@Brus - Have you leaded a good life and readed any good books lately?

Warsaw Will January 7, 2014, 8:05am

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Quoting from Garner's Modern American Usage:

pleaded; pled; plead. Traditionally speaking, "pleaded" is the best past-tense and past-participal form. Commentators on usage of long said so, pouring drops of vitrol onto "has pled" and "has plead":
"Plead, sometimes wrongly used as the pret. of plead. The correct form is 'pleaded.'" John F. Genung, Outlines of Rhetoric 324 (1893)
[Seven other cites spanning the years 1905 to 1943]

The problem with these strong pronouncements, of course, is that "pled" and "plead" have gained some standing in AmE, as the Evanses noted in the 1950s (although they mentioned only "pled"): "In the United States 'pleaded' and 'pled' are both acceptable for the past tense and for the past participle. In Great Britain only the form 'pleaded' is used and "pled" is considered an Americanism." (DCAU at 372)

. . .

Still, "pleaded" is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and always the best choice. . . .

Anon? April 11, 2012, 6:57am

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oops *cries*

Stanmund April 14, 2011, 10:02am

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That makes a lot of sense. Almost my whole life I've heard "pled" and only recently have heard people use "pleaded". "Pleaded" does generate more of an emotional appeal and makes a person who admits guilt seem if they are remorseful.
Using "thru" instead of "through" also bugs me. I can't stand that my boss at work, in charge of online writers, does this. It's English. Yes, language is fluid and English is well known for backstabbing other languages in a back alley, but that doesn't mean you should just lop off letters because you can make the same sound with less.
I also like "leapt" instead of "leaped", "snuck" instead of "sneaked", and "hung" instead of "hanged". The latter in all of these examples just sounds as wrong as "pleaded".
And just to get it off my chest, acronyms are not words. That's why we call them acronyms. I can't believe "LOL" is in the dictionary.

Bonnie Hittle August 29, 2016, 6:51pm

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@Matthew: Except that pleaded is the both the prevailing usage and older than pled. It's not so much a new hack as commenters claim in this thread but both a throwback and signs of a lesser variant starting to lose even more ground.

editirixrex February 21, 2012, 2:39am

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Wikipedia says of the AP Stylebook that "for nearly a quarter century it assumed its reader had a "solid grounding in language and a good reference library" and thus omitted any guidelines in those broader areas ..." but that in 1977 it felt it was necessary to start laying down diktats on this or that matter.
While I agree with DA Wood on what a bad business it is that ships and so forth are not to be referred to as 'she' and 'her', in the view of this book (best ignored on this one) it has certainly got it right on "pleaded": it would never do if we saw the colloquialism 'pled' to emerge in print with reference to the goings-on in courtrooms.
However I am all in favour of comic colloquialisms such as "dove" when referring to more light-hearted matters such as sport. Does this book allow it? What do they say in Tuscaloosa? I shall be thrilled soon to read in some newspaper "Tom Daley dove into the pool and surfaced waving another Olympic gold medal to add to his collection" and I won't care what the AP book says.
Rules were made for our guidance and should not be followed slavishly or mulishly. The great English judge Lord Denning knew that and was always in trouble for it but he is remembered as the greatest judge of the 20th century. (I doubt if he would have allowed 'pled' though if any barrister should have tried it on.)

Brus July 4, 2012, 12:13pm

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Collins, Chambers, and OED seem to be unanimous:-
(Scots law, US) a past tense and past participle of plead

As a Scot who was once in an occupation having daily dealings with Scottish courts I will stick to using "pled" as the past tense of plead when referring to legal proceedings and "pleaded" in all other contexts.

You will note that I completed this post with relatively few words.
Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it does have its place in other areas. :-))

Hairy Scot July 4, 2012, 2:44pm

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South African courts "plead / pleaded" or "ploeg / geploeg" in the 1970s, and now about a dozen proper African words saying the same to deal with as well.

Succinct, hey!

Brus July 4, 2012, 11:00pm

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On the phone today, I dealt with a customer service representative who insisted that she had "resetted" my cellular device... :-)

Katie R July 5, 2012, 6:45am

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Maybe that is why she is a customer service representative.

Brus July 5, 2012, 8:42am

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"Lowbrow" has been one word for a long time, at least in North American English. says that it came into use in about 1902 in the United States.

Speaking of lowbrow, I just saw "alrite" in print on the Internet. Where I went to elementary school during the 1960s, it was emphasized in the textbook and by the teacher that the phrase is really "all right".

I have also seen another insulting word in novels and short stories: "slopehead". It means about the same thing as "lowbrow", and it refers to cavemen, and especially Neanderthals, with their sloping foreheads.

Oh, well, it is difficult to deal with all of the lowbrows and slopeheads that we have now.

Interestingly, the expression "O.K." has been traced by linguists all the way back to President Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, and a man from a Dutch-American family in New York State. Dutch was his first language, at home, and he learned English later. "O.K." was Van Buren's abbreviation of the Dutch phrase "Oll Korrekt", which meant about the same as "all right". As the President, whenever Van Buren finished reading an official document (something the President did a lot of), he marked it with "O.K." in acknowledgement -- whether he found it to be good, bad, or indifferent. It was just his way of keeping track of things. (Back then, the President had very few assistants as compared with a century later.)

The word "okay" is just a back-formation from Van Buren's "O.K."

By the way, Van Buren was the first President of the United States to have been born after the Independence of the United States from Great Britain. He was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, New York, and he died at the age of 79 in Kinderhook, too.
One theory about "O.K." that has now been discredited was that O.K. stood for "Old Kinderhook", supposedly a nickname for Van Buren.

Van Buren is the only President whose first language was not English -- though in my opinion, the same thing applied to George W. Bush, whose only language was Broken English. I used to cringe every time he made a speech.


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 6:28am

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Why do have the need to bash and get rid of Latin and French words? Wouldn't that leave English bereft of its musicality. I don't care if you wish to add Anglo-Saxon (Old English) words into modern English. I have no problem with that whatsoever, but to completely eradicate Latin and French words from the vocabulary like some kind of lexical holocaust is abhorrent. I mean, what that leave us with in terms of words. If what you say is true, we have obtained 28,000 Latin/French words, but there could be more. Under your rules, all those words not fitting the one to two syllabic requirement would be vaporized. Preferably, I like to use big words and small words. Whatever happens to be on my vocabulary sheet, I'll use it.

As for laughing at us who use Latin and French words, I would say we could, and should, laugh at you for use of Anglo-Saxon spelling and words. It is ridiculous honestly and slightly frustrating (I have to decipher what you're trying to say—which makes it more advantageous for me just to ignore or skip over what you say most of the time). So try to stop with the condescension.

Jasper May 8, 2013, 4:06am

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Aye, D.A., ye're fair going your dinger the nicht, as we say in Scotland. Are you on the malt too?

Brus March 20, 2012, 1:36pm

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Pled sounds better; do not worry about writing; in court, "...the defendant 'pled guilty....' at a past date...."; King James bible sound; traditional; Black's law dictionary is definitive.
Atty, 40 years, retired public defender, pled 1,000's guilty, in fact.

bob foster April 26, 2014, 1:15am

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A judge will never ask "how do you plea?" that is a noun and he is requesting that you perform an action. the question posed will be either "how do you *plead*?" or "what is the defendant's *plea*?" Last i checked, plea is a regular verb so to everyone facetiously asking "oh der should it 'leaded' and 'readed' now too?": that query is irrelevant because plead is a regular verb and just because two worda rhymes doesnt mean they have the same root etymology as another word and will necessarily carry the same conjugation. Plead should be pleaded in the past tense and it is only "nails on a chalkboard" to some of you because has been used inconsistently from its own conjugation for so long. It doesnt matter if it sounds right. Many people say "drug" sounds better than "dragged" and i am far too civil to pen what i think of that in a public forum. There is also a difference between what is acceptable writing and what is acceptable speech. Its ok to drop pieces of words when you speak; clear dictation and crisp enunciation can certainly be reserved for shakespeare or the podium. By that same logic, snuck is probably acceptable in speech but just because it sounds right doesnt make it correct. And just because a dictionary that also includes current linguistic trends in its entries supports your use of colloquial conjugations in written work doesn't make it the rule. Sneak becomes sneaked, plead becomes pleaded, read becomes read, lead becomes lead, light becomes lighted, and drag becomes dragged! Learning the difference between regular and irregular verbs is a matter of sheer memorization and one of the reasons non-native English speakers find it hard to learn the language. But it is also something native speakers dont even bother to learn anymore because common parlance will allow them to get away with talking however way it "sounds right." It is laziness, stubborness, egocentricity, and refusal to change all rolled into one. Saw it in school and now i see it in society.

Mraff February 6, 2014, 6:18am

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@Mraff - at the moment, snuck is considered 'informal' and 'chiefly North American' (Oxford), but it looks as though its use is increasing. It's even 'snuck' into British English. If enough people use it, it will become totally standard and absolutely unobjectionable. Just like saying you instead of ye is now standard but at one time would have been considered a mistake. That's how language works.

Actually, in my experience as a teacher, apart from at very low levels, non-native speakers don't have that much trouble with irregular verbs (even the most irregular English verbs have only a maximum of five morphological forms, far less than most European languages). What really gives foreign learners gyp is phrasal verbs, not irregular verbs.

Warsaw Will February 6, 2014, 9:34am

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I don't know what it is, but "snuck" to me sounds better than sneaked. The "uck" part has that pernicious sound when paired with "sn".

To Warsaw Will, I feel as though the archaic second person singular pronouns (thou, thee, thy, thine) should be resurrected for the sake of clarity. Whenever I read you, I think which you? You singular or you plural?

Jasper February 6, 2014, 10:33am

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@Jasper - I started off by intending to give thou, thee etc as an example, when I realised that was a disappearance rather than a change in a word form, which is why I chose ye, the old subject form of you, which is still shown in some nineteenth century grammars. Perhaps you should go and live in Yorkshire:

"Watching the people get lairy
It's not very pretty I tell thee"

Kaiser Chiefs (Leeds)

Apparently, the OED has the first citation for snuck from as long ago as 1887.

Google Books goes slightly earlier; this is from 1881:

"Well, sir, your boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behind a sorrel mule, tickled him on the hind leg, and ..."

repeated a bit later (1886) in slightly less standard English:

"Well, sir, yer boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behin' a sorrel mule, tickled him on the heels, an ..."

One from 1889:

'False doctrine snuck in amongst them with a great and holy appearance'

And another from 1895:

"I have just sandbagged the messenger and got a cool ten thousand out of his safe, when a beastly opposition train robber snuck in on me, slugged me, and took and made off with all the stuff"

Warsaw Will February 6, 2014, 1:39pm

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Hi there, D A Wood.

Now, I think you need a wee rest and a holiday. One can tell: you wrote 'pled' again, when you meant 'pleaded'. Carlsbad is nice at this time of year.

Brus March 25, 2012, 6:57am

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Yes     No