Definition of privilege in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈprɪvɪlɪdʒ/


1A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group: education is a right, not a privilege [mass noun]: he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege
More example sentences
  • The bill, piloted by acting Foreign Affairs Minister Danny Montano, is meant to grant certain privileges and immunities to the ACS.
  • A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.
  • In earlier times, people from wealthy families enjoyed great privileges not available to working-class and poor people.
advantage, right, benefit, prerogative, entitlement, birthright, due;
concession, freedom, liberty
1.1Something regarded as a special honour: I had the privilege of giving the Sir George Brown memorial lecture
More example sentences
  • ‘It is a great honour and privilege to receive this award, especially in such a forum,’ he commented.
  • He did, however, describe the awards haul as ‘a real privilege, a tremendous honour and a real achievement’.
  • It's an immense privilege and honour to lead the council and I'm very proud of what has been achieved in the last three years.
honour, pleasure, source of pleasure/pride/satisfaction
1.2 (also absolute privilege or parliamentary privilege) (Especially in a parliamentary context) the right to say or write something without the risk of incurring punishment or legal action for defamation: he called on MPs not to abuse their privilege [mass noun]: a breach of parliamentary privilege
More example sentences
  • The committee, in its report, found the letter to be insulting but it did not constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege or contempt of Parliament.
  • They want to go into greater detail about how they can extend that right of parliamentary privilege to outside Parliament.
  • Parliamentary privilege is an ancient, much misunderstood concept, which I won't go into here.
1.3The right of a lawyer or official to refuse to divulge confidential information.
Example sentences
  • Z refused to provide information to the prosecutors citing a privilege against giving testimony against one's spouse.
  • And the notion that this is some sort of lawless act on her part, as if no one has ever received what the lawyers call a privilege, a right not to reveal sources, it just isn't so.
  • The court also said that the reporter had a right to assert the privilege for nonconfidential information.
1.4chiefly historical A grant to an individual, corporation, or place of special rights or immunities, especially in the form of a franchise or monopoly.
Example sentences
  • The maximization of exports was to be stimulated by subsidies, tax incentives, and monopoly privileges granted by the Crown to export enterprises.
  • Hummell explains how it is that government gained its monopoly privileges in the first place and how the will to be free is essential in undermining this monopoly.
  • Like rent, interest is the offspring of state-supported monopoly privilege, not of liberty or community.
immunity, exemption, dispensation


[with object] formal
1Grant a privilege or privileges to: English inheritance law privileged the eldest son
More example sentences
  • These dovetailed with the devolution of a familial model based on the territorial prince and a rule of law privileging the eldest son.
  • Under this law, anyone who protests inside a church can be prosecuted on a charge far more serious than breach of the peace; it is an odd, arcane law, privileging the church, and should no doubt be abolished.
  • The law does not privilege the interests of men above those of women.
1.1Exempt (someone) from a liability or obligation to which others are subject: barristers are privileged from arrest going to, coming from, and abiding in court
More example sentences
  • In some, but not all, forms of legal process, witnesses and parties attending and returning from court are privileged from arrest.


Middle English: via Old French from Latin privilegium 'bill or law affecting an individual', from privus 'private' + lex, leg- 'law'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: priv¦il|ege

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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