2. Answer – defendant’s first pleading, either to deny the allegations of the complaint, demur to them, agree with them, or introduce affirmative defenses intended to defeat or delay the lawsuit

[an • ser]
n. (bef. 12c.)

1. A defendant’s first pleading that addresses the merits of the case, usually by denying the plaintiff’s allegations.  An answer usually sets forth the defendant’s defenses & counterclaims. [1]

1. The reply to a question.

2. A pleading in response to a complaint.  An answer may deny the allegations of the complaint, demur to them, agree with them, or introduce affirmative defenses intended to defeat the plaintiff’s lawsuit or delay it. See false answer; full answer; unresponsive. [2]


1. To reply.

2. In pleading, to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint by denying its allegations or by introducing affirmative defenses containing new matter.

3. To assume liability. USAGE: “I will answer for your debt to the bank.” [2]

Counterclaim – a cause of action within the defendant’s answer which may have been used to sue the plaintiff in a separate action; used in opposition to or as a setoff against the plaintiff ’s claim.

The Defendants Answer to the Complaint
(same form on UScourts.gov) [3]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: United States Courts, Civil Forms, “Form Number: Pro Se 3 – Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint”:  http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms/defendants-answer-complaint


Back to Types of Pleadings

Essential Terminology

Intro to U.S. Law

Legal Precepts Adopted (from Europe) into The U.S. Constitution

§ § of Law Embedded into the Constitution Pursuant to the American Revolution

Indian Country Law

Federal Rules of Procedure

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