noun Law.
a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to defendant ).

1350–1400; Middle English plaintif complaining person, noun use of the adj.: plaintive

plaintiffship, noun

plaintiff, plaintive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
plaintiff (ˈpleɪntɪf)
Compare defendant Now replaced by: claimant (formerly) a person who brings a civil action in a court of law
[C14: from legal French plaintif, from Old French plaintif (adj) complaining, from plainteplaint]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1400, from Anglo-Fr. pleintif (1278), noun use of O.Fr. plaintif "complaining," from pleint (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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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Example sentences
The plaintiffs' lawyers in some of these cases cited his research.
Featured here are the complaints submitted by the plaintiffs, and the judgments
  ultimately delivered.
The plaintiffs originally included religiously motivated groups, who were ruled
  to lack legal standing.
Regulators and state prosecutors have more powers to demand information than
  private plaintiffs do.
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