private

adjective
pri·​vate | \ ˈprī-vət How to pronounce private (audio) \

Definition of private

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class a private park
b : belonging to or concerning an individual person, company, or interest a private house
c(1) : carried on by the individual independently of the usual institutions a doctor in private practice also : being educated by independent study or a tutor or in a private school private students
(2) : restricted to the individual or arising independently of others private opinion
d : not general in effect a private statute
e(1) : accommodating only one patient The private patient room, once a luxury for the privileged few, is about to become the standard for the nation's hospitals, as evidence mounts that shared rooms lead to higher infection rates, more medical errors, privacy violations and harmful stress.— Laura Landro
(2) : staying or recovering in a room accommodating only one patient private hospital patients — compare semiprivate sense 2
2a(1) : not related to one's official position : personal private correspondence
(2) : not holding public office or employment a private citizen
b : being a private
3a : not known or intended to be known publicly : secret
b : preferring to keep personal affairs to oneself : valuing privacy highly
c : withdrawn from company or observation a private retreat
d : unsuitable for public use or display
4 : not having shares that can be freely traded on the open market a private company

private

noun

Definition of private (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an enlisted person of the lowest rank in the marine corps or of one of the two lowest ranks in the army
b : a person of low rank in any of various organizations (such as a police or fire department)
2 privates plural : private parts
3 archaic : one not in public office
4 obsolete : privacy
in private
: not openly or in public

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Other Words from private

Adjective

privately adverb
privateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for private

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of private in a Sentence

Adjective It was the first time many had seen works from the artist's private collection. At work he was always very serious, but in his private life, he was actually very funny and relaxed. Please keep all my personal information private. He's a very private person.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Several other public and private labs are also processing specimens. Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, "A more contagious coronavirus variant is in San Antonio. Now what?," 13 Feb. 2021 For the past 30-plus years, my professional focus has been in decision optimization, the discipline of applying mathematical methods to the solution of problems that arise in the public and private sectors. Martin Shell, STAT, "With Covid-19 vaccines, ‘fair’ isn’t always fair enough," 12 Feb. 2021 The popularity of those exemptions led to immunization rates that dropped to 80 percent or lower at public and private schools and preschools in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and other affluent Los Angeles area communities. New York Times, "Anti-Vaccine Activists Emboldened in California," 6 Feb. 2021 To get a clear picture of an emergency in progress, officers often had to bushwhack through dozens of byzantine databases and feeds from far-flung sensors, including gunshot detectors, license plate readers, and public and private security cameras. Arthur Holland Michel, Wired, "There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain," 4 Feb. 2021 The company hopes to be a growing technology provider on public and private spectrums as the 5G rollout grows, said CEO and Chairman Dan Hodges. Dallas News, "With a public listing and a $14 million acquisition, Dallas’ COMSovereign is making big bid on 5G tech," 1 Feb. 2021 Her plan also includes raising upwards of $2 million from public and private funding to pay for summer school, tutoring, smaller class sizes or whatever is needed. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. schools see learning gaps widen during pandemic," 31 Jan. 2021 The seven states previously had suspended interstate youth hockey activities for public and private schools and youth leagues through Jan. 31. BostonGlobe.com, "New England news in brief," 29 Jan. 2021 One of the more glaring differences between public and private schools in Arizona is the disparity of students allowed to fill classrooms. Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "Pandemic closures and ‘sick-outs’ highlight School Choice Week in Arizona," 26 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 22-year-old Army private collapsed in 2011 while exercising with his unit at Fort Bliss. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Ex-CEO of Dallas supplement company linked to sickness and death gets 5 years in prison," 14 Oct. 2020 After keeping her pregnancy news private, Mindy Kaling took to Instagram to share some details of her experience being pregnant with her second child during the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Being pregnant during the pandemic 'was a little scary,' Mindy Kaling says," 11 Oct. 2020 Ryan spoke personally or corresponded with everyone—from privates to generals; infantrymen, sailors, airmen, submariners, medics, drivers, paratroopers, glider crews and passengers. Winston Groom, WSJ, "‘The Longest Day’ Review: On the Beaches of Normandy," 5 June 2019 Late in life, going dotty (or dottier than usual), my father contemplated returning to the battle zone of the Ardennes and seeking out German privates who had fought on the other side. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Art of Dying," 16 Dec. 2019 The result was a massive funding shortfall that had to be partially compensated by tapping debt markets via the April private placement. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "Aston Martin Went Public a Year Ago—and Then the Wheels Fell Off," 26 Sep. 2019 County police would not release the results of its investigation or the name of the officer, citing the need to keep the officer’s personnel record private. Liz Bowie, baltimoresun.com, "White Baltimore County officer disciplined after black city school principal alleges police verbally abused him," 17 Sep. 2019 During the hearing Thursday, the student testified that in a separate incident, another student had removed his pants, exposing him, and took a photograph of his privates. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Hamtramck student alleges he was sexually assaulted by school employee, a Dem activist," 31 Oct. 2019 Ladies sat in such a way as not to display their privates to fellow diners. Dan Danbom, The Denver Post, "Don’t blow your nose in a napkin and use the right fork. Whatever happened to manners?," 17 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'private.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of private

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for private

Adjective

Middle English privat, from Anglo-French, from Latin privatus, from past participle of privare to deprive, release, from privus private, individual; probably akin to Latin pro for, in front of — more at for

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Time Traveler for private

Time Traveler

The first known use of private was in the 14th century

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Statistics for private

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Private.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/private. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for private

private

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of private

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: for the use of a single person or group : belonging to one person or group : not public
: not relating to a person's official position or job
: not known by the public or by other people

private

noun

English Language Learners Definition of private (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person of the lowest rank in the U.S. or British Army or the U.S. Marines

private

adjective
pri·​vate | \ ˈprī-vət How to pronounce private (audio) \

Kids Definition of private

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having to do with or for the use of a single person or group : not public private property
2 : not holding any public office a private citizen
3 : secret entry 1 sense 1 private meetings

Other Words from private

privately adverb

private

noun

Kids Definition of private (Entry 2 of 2)

: an enlisted person of the lowest rank in the marine corps or of either of the two lowest ranks in the army

private

adjective
pri·​vate | \ ˈprī-vət How to pronounce private (audio) \

Medical Definition of private

1 : accommodating only one patient a private patient room also : staying or recovering in a room accommodating only one patient private hospital patients — compare semiprivate
2 : of, relating to, or being private practice a private office a private practitioner

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private

adjective
pri·​vate

Legal Definition of private

1a : intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person or group or class of persons : not available to the public a private park
b : not related to, controlled by, or deriving from the state a private school
2a : owned by or concerning an individual person or entity private land
b : not having shares that can be freely traded on the open market a private company
3 : affecting the interests of a particular person, class or group of persons, or locality private legislation private rights
4a : not invested with or engaged in public office or employment a private citizen
b : not related to or dependent on an official position private correspondence
5 : not known publicly or carried on in public especially : intended only for the persons involved
6 : made under private signature a private instrument

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Comments on private

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