Plaintive vs plaintiff

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Plaintive describes something that sounds mournful or sad, such as a moan, a sigh or a musical work. Plaintive is an adjective, related words are plaintively, plaintiveness. The word plaintive comes from the Old French word plaintif  which means miserable, complaining.

A plaintiff is someone who brings a civil case in a court of law. A plaintiff is a claimant, it is the opposite of the defendant. Interestingly, the word plaintiff is also derived from the Old French word plaintif, meaning miserable, complaining.


There’s earnest beauty in it and the instrumental playing on this recording is spot on – the Berkeley Ensemble under David Wordsworth clinches the balance of chaste, plaintive and urgent – while the young early-music voices of the Marian Consort sound well-behaved but a bit thin for the more thuddingly gothic moments. (The Guardian)

But the show’s most moving moments are more intimate, like Banville’s plaintive solo from the crow’s nest and the sweet radio room duet about distant loves by Bermudez and Parker. (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A male nighthawk, Thelen said, will attempt to impress the female with its plaintive “peent” and thunderous boom, soaring and diving all the while. (The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript)

A Milwaukee-based federal judge has dismissed the largest lawsuit filed by Cory Groshek, the Green Bay man dubbed a “professional plaintiff” after he threatened to sue more than 40 companies. (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Also, class actions against Tepco and the government now have more plaintiffs than any previous Japanese contamination suit and, overruling reluctant prosecutors, criminal charges have been leveled against former Tepco executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 meltdowns and explosions. (The Japan Times)

A court should not even consider giving an anonymous plaintiff standing to stop the flow of public information. (The Island Packet)