Share this entry

Share this page

private

Syllabification: pri·vate
Pronunciation: /ˈprīvit
 
/

Definition of private in English:

adjective

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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
confidential, secret, classified, unofficial, off the record, closet, in camera;
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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
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introvert, introverted, self-contained, reticent, discreet, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, retiring, unsociable, withdrawn, solitary, reclusive, hermitic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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
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.
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.

noun

Back to top  
1A soldier of the lowest rank, in particular an enlisted person in the US Army or Marine Corps ranking below private first class.
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.
Synonyms
sapper, gunner;
enlisted personnel
informal GI
2 (privates) informal short for private parts.
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.

Origin

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'.

More
  • Someone who is private has literally ‘withdrawn from public life’ and is acting as an ordinary citizen—that is the meaning of the Latin root, from privare ‘to bereave, deprive’ from privus ‘single, individual’. It is also the root of deprive (Middle English), privilege (Middle English), and privation (Middle English). In the army privates are ordinary soldiers as opposed to officers. They were originally, from the 1570s, private soldiers. Privates meaning ‘the genitals’ is first recorded in around 1450. Back in the 13th century privy, which is from the same root, meant ‘belonging to your own private circle’. The meaning ‘a lavatory’ is as old and comes from the idea of this being a private place.

Phrases

in private

1
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.
Synonyms

Words that rhyme with private

covetaquavitbanquet

Definition of private in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day terpsichorean
Pronunciation: ˌtərpsikəˈrēən
adjective
of or relating to dancing