I thought that the word please came from the plural of plea. But then why is it please instead of just pleas? Why the e? Are "plea" and "please" really related to each other?

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    'Plea' and 'Please' are two different words. In BTW, all words are not regular. – Noah Mar 4 '12 at 2:16

Surprisingly, plea and please are not derived from each other. The verb please comes from Old French, and ultimately from Latin:

please (v.) early 14c., "to be agreeable," from O.Fr. plaisir (Fr. plaire) "to please," from L. placere "to be acceptable, be liked, be approved," related to placare "to soothe, quiet," from PIE root *p(e)lag- "to smooth, make even" (cf. Gk. plax, gen. plakos "level surface," plakoeis "flat;" Lett. plakt "to become flat;" O.N. flaga "layer of earth;" Norw. flag "open sea;" O.E. floh "piece of stone, fragment;" O.H.G. fluoh "cliff").

The word plea also comes from Old French and ultimately from the same Latin word as please, but the stems were already different in O.Fr., and there is not and never has been any morphological relationship to please in English.

plea (n.) early 13c., "lawsuit," from Anglo-Fr. plai (late 12c.), O.Fr. plait "lawsuit, decision, decree" (9c.), from M.L. placitum "lawsuit," in classical L., "opinion, decree," lit. "that which pleases, thing which is agreed upon," properly neut. pp. of placere (see please).

All etymologies from Online Etymological Dictionary.

  • Particularly surprising since the "please" you might use in making a plea, comes from the first rather than the second, being a contraction of "an it please you" ("if it pleases you to do so" in more modern English). – Jon Hanna Aug 7 '12 at 21:36

I cut pasted the part below, but essentially, they come from different Old French roots, but if you keep going back they come from the same Latin root, placere.

plea (n.)

early 13c., "lawsuit," from Anglo-French plai (late 12c.), Old French plait "lawsuit, decision, decree" (9c.), from Medieval Latin placitum "lawsuit," in classical Latin, "opinion, decree," literally "that which pleases, thing which is agreed upon," properly neuter past participle of placere "to please, give pleasure, be approved" (see please).

Sense development seems to be from "something pleasant," to "something that pleases both sides," to "something that has been decided." Meaning "a pleading, an agreement in a suit" is attested from late 14c. Plea-bargaining is first attested 1963. Common pleas (early 13c.) originally were legal proceedings over which the Crown did not claim exclusive jurisdiction (as distinct from pleas of the Crown); later "actions brought by one subject against another."


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    What's the source of the cut'n'paste text? – KillingTime Jan 15 at 17:16
  • What about @jsbangs answer prompted you to add this one? – Jim Jan 15 at 18:13

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