Pleaded vs. Pled and Enormity Defined

Today I will answer a couple of questions I received from radio listeners when I was a guest.

Question: Should you say “pleaded guilty” or “pled guilty”? Answer: Either one is considered correct.

Question: Does “enormity” mean “something monstrous” or “something huge”? Answer: In formal writing, enormity has nothing to do with something’s size. The word is frequently misused: the “enormity” of football linemen, or the “enormity” of the task. For that, we have such words as immensity, vastness, hugeness, enormousness.

Enormity is an ethical, judgmental word meaning “great wickedness,” “a hideous crime.” The enormity of Jonestown doesn’t mean Jonestown was a huge place, but rather, the site of a hugely outrageous tragedy.

Posted on Friday, February 5, 2010, at 12:22 pm

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6 Comments on Pleaded vs. Pled and Enormity Defined

6 responses to “Pleaded vs. Pled and Enormity Defined”

  1. Keith C Cannon says:

    Pled is singular, pleaded is plural. I pled guilty, we pleaded with him time and time again.

    • Pled can also be plural and pleaded can be singular. However, the AP Stylebook says that pled is colloquial and should not be used in formal English.
      Update: The 55th edition of the AP Stylebook (2020-2022), deleted guidance not to use pled.

  2. Sue M. says:

    I have a question regarding the use of the term “utilizing” instead of using. Or she “utilized” instead of she used. (I do dictation and have one physician’s assistant who always uses the word utilized or utilizing and it seems he uses it inappropriately to me. I have started to notice people speaking this word on TV shows and news media. What is the protocol (I guess) for when to use (or should I say utilize) the word use versus utilize? Is it a regional preference?

    Another habit this PA-C has which drives me nuts: He will say she had a headache on last Saturday instead of just saying last Saturday. Or he will say she felt ill “on yesterday” instead of just she felt ill yesterday. I also wonder if that is a regional preference.

    And pray-tell I will never (although you told me it was correct) be able to handle the defendant pleaded guilty. ARGH that just grinds on my ears (as a former legal secretary and god knows the legal community butchers grammar) but I can’t stand that. The defendant PLED is all I can tolerate.

    • We doubt that utilize represents a regional preference. We noted in our article Stubborn Stinkaroos that George Orwell blew the whistle on this pretentious word in the 1940s. Unfortunately, it’s still in common use.

      Your physician’s assistant appears to have a habit of adding an unnecessary preposition.

      We prefer pleaded, but pled is gaining acceptance in some circles, so use it if you wish.

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