[pleyn-tif] /ˈpleɪn tɪf/

noun, Law.
a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to ).
(formerly) a person who brings a civil action in a court of law Now replaced by claimant Compare defendant (sense 1)

c.1400, from Anglo-French pleintif (late 13c.), noun use of Old French plaintif “complaining; wretched, miserable,” from plainte (see plaint). Identical with plaintive at first; the form that receded into legal usage retained the older -iff spelling.

The party that institutes a suit in a court. The person or entity the plaintiff sues is the defendant.


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  • Plaintive

    [pleyn-tiv] /ˈpleɪn tɪv/ adjective 1. expressing sorrow or melancholy; mournful: a plaintive melody. /ˈpleɪntɪv/ adjective 1. expressing melancholy; mournful adj. late 14c., “lamenting,” from Old French plaintif “complaining; wretched, miserable,” from plainte (see plaint). Sense of “mournful, sad” first recorded 1570s. Related: Plaintively; plaintiveness.

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  • Plain-vanilla

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