Is there a noun or adjective for the following or similar:

  • a pleading before a judge for clemency
  • a prayer before God begging for mercy

Is there a better word than "begging", "pleading", "petitioning", etc.?

  • 9
    Better for what? You haven't told us why "begging", "pleading", "petitioning", etc. aren't acceptable. What are you trying to explain that those words don't explain?
    – Nick2253
    Feb 4, 2015 at 20:36
  • 3
    Not 'plead' but 'plea'. 'Plea' is the noun.
    – Mitch
    Feb 4, 2015 at 20:50
  • 3
    Ineffective? cough
    – BrianH
    Feb 4, 2015 at 22:25
  • 1
    As @Mitch suggests, the noun "pleading" tends to be used to refer to an event (eg, a court hearing), while "plea" refers to the supplication itself ("a plea for justice").
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 4, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    To seek clemency/seeking clemency is often used. But not as a noun(seeking) recently. As others have said, the plea. You make a plea for it to s.o or you seek it from s.o, that I know.
    – user98955
    Feb 5, 2015 at 9:22

6 Answers 6


Judge or God, clemency or mercy..

Supplication, a noun, can logically be applied to any situation in which you plead to someone in power for help or a favor.

Supplication: comes from the Latin verb supplicare, which means "to plead humbly." (etymonline.com)

Supplication (also known as petitioning) is a form of prayer, wherein one party humbly or earnestly asks another party to provide something, either for the party who is doing the supplicating (e.g., "Please spare my life.") or on behalf of someone else (e.g., "Please spare my child's life.").

  • 2
    +1 for a great word but please include your source in case your link goes stale. :-) Feb 4, 2015 at 21:51
  • @KristinaLopez - what does that mean, "link goes stale"? Stops working? Why does that happen?
    – user98990
    Feb 5, 2015 at 6:34
  • 2
    @LittleEva - The reference to a link going stale (a.k.a. 'going dead' or succumbing to 'link rot') pertains to the fact that the URL it consists of is no longer pointing to the desired page (or even to any page at all). See this Wikipedia article.
    – Erik Kowal
    Feb 5, 2015 at 10:34
  • +1 @Erik Kowal - so it's been removed or the addy has changed?
    – user98990
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:35
  • 1
    @LittleEva - This article on the history of GeoCities should be highly informative on the issue of why it is important to avoid link rot. Even the biggest websites can die. In fact here is a different link to the same article in case the first one dies.
    – O.M.Y.
    Feb 5, 2015 at 17:36

Prayer may be best because it is actually a legal term of art. E.g., I'm looking at a court order that reads "... it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that the prayer of the Petition is DENIED...."

  • +1 yes, it's commonly encountered in legal writing and often heard in the court room.
    – user98990
    Feb 5, 2015 at 6:38
  • As in "pray tell," pray is another way of saying "please" (I think).
    – Shokhet
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:08

Perhaps entreaty

An earnest or humble request: the king turned a deaf ear to his entreaties

Oxford Dictionaries Online


The noun imploration might be suitable to your needs.

An act of begging someone to do something:
earnest implorations for divine forgiveness and mercy

From the verb implore Etymonline tells us

v. c.1500, from Middle French implorer and directly from Latin implorare "call for help, beseech," originally "invoke with weeping," from assimilated form of in- "on, upon" + plorare "to weep, cry out." Related: Implored ; imploring ; imploringly.


In the English criminal courts the defence, between conviction and sentencing, may make a plea in mitigation.


In the case of religion I would use the word "prostrate" or "prostration". This is when you kneel down with your body flat before a God or religious icon. I have used the word in non religious instances too but this may not be correct.

  • I'd be very surprised to see a defendant prostrate in court...
    – Stephie
    Feb 5, 2015 at 17:30
  • Only if it's from heat stroke.
    – bmargulies
    Feb 5, 2015 at 18:53

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