Definition of private in English:


Line breaks: pri|vate
Pronunciation: /ˈprʌɪvət


  • 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: the ambassador visited the school in a private capacity
    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.
  • 3(Of a service or industry) provided or owned by an individual or an independent, commercial company rather than the state: this research was carried out by private industry
    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, non-state-controlled, non-state-run, privatized, denationalized, non-public, commercial, private-enterprise
  • 3.1(Of education or medical treatment) conducted outside the state system and charging fees to those who make use of it: private education if I could afford it I’d go private
    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?
  • 3.2Relating to or denoting a transaction between individuals and not involving commercial organizations: it was a private sale—no estate 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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  • 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.
in secret, secretly, in secrecy, privately, behind closed doors, in camera, with no one else present; in confidence, confidentially, between ourselves, off the record; Latin sub rosa; French entre nous, à huis clos


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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