Definition of private in English:


Syllabification: pri·vate
Pronunciation: /ˈprīvit


  • 1Belonging to or for the use of one particular person or group of people only: all bedrooms have private facilities his private plane
    More example sentences
    • Darknets are gated communities that run on the Internet but are open only to those who belong to the private network.
    • It's a facility that's widely used and currently caters for several private planes.
    • In fact, in Australia, fewer women belong to private golf clubs now than they did 20 years ago.
    personal, own, individual, special, exclusive, privately owned
  • 1.1(Of a situation, activity, or gathering) affecting or involving only a particular person or group of people: a small private service in the chapel
    More example sentences
    • We were in the beer garden outside a pub on the Thames, and there was a private function in a sectioned off part of the ‘garden’.
    • Weddings, party nights and private functions already booked will now have to be rearranged.
    • I was once working a private function, and four of us were slammed with about 150 cars arriving at the same time.
    confidential, secret, classified, unofficial, off the record, closet, in camera; backstage, privileged, one-on-one, tête-à-tête, sub rosa
  • 1.2(Of thoughts and feelings) not to be shared with or revealed to others: she felt awkward intruding on private grief
    More example sentences
    • But the murder of the two ten-year-old Soham girls has sent shockwaves of grief far beyond the private agony of their families.
    • It flourishes on the back of faxes and in the margins of copybooks, doodles reveal a billion private boredoms.
    • A source of aggravation could be your temporary inability to sort out intensely private feelings.
    intimate, personal, secret; innermost, undisclosed, unspoken, unvoiced
  • 1.3(Of a person) not choosing to share thoughts and feelings with others: he was a very private man
    More example sentences
    • She was a private person, often revealing herself more in her drawings than in anything she said.
    • Friends recall him as a private man, a man who did not often reveal his feelings.
    • My mom chooses to be more private, and she lives in the western part of the United States.
    reserved, introvert, introverted, self-contained, reticent, discreet, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, retiring, unsociable, withdrawn, solitary, reclusive, hermitic
  • 1.4(Of a meeting or discussion) involving only a small number of people and dealing with matters that are not to be disclosed to others: this is a private conversation
    More example sentences
    • When the seamstress comes for your summer fitting, you and she will have a private meeting to discuss it.
    • The meeting would be private, only the governor and his absolute most trusted advisors would be attending.
    • Second, I'm launching a private Grand Rounds discussion forum on Google Groups.
  • 1.5(Of a place) quiet and free from people who can interrupt: can we go somewhere a little more private?
    More example sentences
    • As if by instinct, he retreats to the woodshed, a quiet and private place where he sometimes goes just to sit and think.
    • You might also want to designate a quiet, private space where you can dim the lights and play your favorite relaxing music.
    • We didn't go where we normally go; we went out into the country to a little private place.
    secluded, solitary, undisturbed, concealed, hidden, remote, isolated, out of the way, sequestered
  • 2(Of a person) having no official or public role or position: the paintings were sold to a private collector
    More example sentences
    • If he wants you to act a poor man, a cripple, a public official, or a private person, see that you act it with skill.
    • Future revenue would be paid to private individuals, and public spending would be financed by income tax.
    • Anyone can access it: companies big and small, public institutions and private individuals.
  • 2.1Not connected with one’s work or official position: he would continue to represent her in a private capacity as advisor and confidant
    More example sentences
    • Gardaí in Killarney stressed they were here in a private capacity and not part of an official Swedish army party.
    • This was so whether or not the accused was abroad on official business or in a private capacity.
    • And he emphasises he is making his comments in his private capacity.
    unofficial, personal
  • 3(Of a service or industry) provided or owned by an individual or an independent, commercial company rather than by the government: research projects carried out by private industry more than 1,400 state enterprises that were about to go private
    More example sentences
    • But more business doctoral grads are entering private industry rather than academia.
    • In fact this was nothing more than a way of deflecting criticism away from the state while at the same time providing profits for private industry.
    • So it turned to private industry to provide the extra manpower needed to implement the program.
    independent; privatized, denationalized; commercial, private-enterprise
  • 3.1Of or relating to a system of education or medical treatment conducted outside the system of government and charging fees to the individuals who make use of it.
    More example sentences
    • Both also have private practices and perform infertility treatment at the private Assuta Hospital and Herzliya Medical Centre.
    • NHS treatment is attractive to patients because the charges are lower than private treatment, sometimes significantly.
    • Should you stay in the public system or go private with your medical insurance?
  • 3.2Of, relating to, or denoting a transaction between individuals and not involving commercial organizations: it was a private sale—no agent’s commission
    More example sentences
    • Since opening in March, the home has mostly relied on private donations from charitable organizations.
    • It's a private transaction between me and the landlord/ landlady/ shopowner.
    • Many charters served simply to confirm previous charters, judgements or private transactions.


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  • 1A soldier of the lowest rank, in particular an enlisted person in the US Army or Marine Corps ranking below private first class.
    More example sentences
    • He enlisted in the Army in 1980 and was first assigned as a young private as a supply clerk in Germany.
    • Abroad, the death of an army private has been followed by the murder of five innocent civilians.
    • Even a third class pilot had more power than a private in the army.
    private soldier, common soldier; trooper; sapper, gunner; enlisted personnel
    informal GI
  • 2 (privates) • informal short for private parts.
    More example sentences
    • I think I'd actually rather flash my privates than appear in public in creased clothing.
    • Obviously, naming our privates is a matter of personal taste.
    • ‘Hey, gimme that,’ says the second kid protecting his privates.


in private

With no one else present: I’ve got to talk to you in private
More example sentences
  • The judge was today hearing a bail application on Colin's behalf in private.
  • There is even a coffee table and two armchairs if you want to chat with your girlfriend in private.
  • Rome has an obsession with secrecy - a lot goes on in private but it need not.


late Middle English (originally denoting a person not acting in an official capacity): from Latin privatus 'withdrawn from public life', a use of the past participle of privare 'bereave, deprive', from privus 'single, individual'.

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