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[pleyn-tif] /ˈpleɪn tɪf/
noun, Law.
a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to defendant).
Origin of plaintiff
1350-1400; Middle English plaintif complaining person, noun use of the adj.: plaintive
Related forms
plaintiffship, noun
Can be confused
plaintiff, plaintive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for plaintiff
  • For the plaintiff this has been a painful episode.
  • The plaintiff failed to make his case.
  • Nevada law only requires one plaintiff be identified at the time of filing a class action lawsuit, he said.
  • The plaintiff was not satisfied, so he cried fraud.
  • The lead plaintiff in a lawsuit, he was part of an identity theft ring.
  • The plaintiff is generally entitled to open the argument.
  • But the most important among them would be the lead plaintiff.
  • For a plaintiff to recover damages, this action or failure must be the "proximate cause" of an injury, and actual loss must occur.
  • The jury rendered a verdict for plaintiff for $2970 60.
  • The research firm's clients include plaintiff attorneys and auto suppliers.
British Dictionary definitions for plaintiff


(formerly) a person who brings a civil action in a court of law Now replaced by claimant Compare defendant (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14: from legal French plaintif, from Old French plaintif (adj) complaining, from plainteplaint
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for plaintiff

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plaintiff in Culture

plaintiff definition

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

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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