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c : withdrawn from company or observation a private retreat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



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

Other Words from private


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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Khisha Asubuhi came to Cincinnati to coach basketball in 2003 and soon noticed Southwest Ohio's strong pride in its private, Catholic high schools. Jason Williams, The Enquirer, 27 May 2022 In April, a source told Page Six that the couple will likely keep their exact ceremony details private. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 27 May 2022 Connecticut’s share now stands at $178 million, with $77.5 million coming from private partners — a 70-30 split. Hartford Courant, 26 May 2022 The Lanesborough, a masterpiece property of the Oetker Collection, is one of London’s premier addresses, with private suites that celebrate the best in British craftsmanship and period detailing. Sean Santiago, ELLE Decor, 26 May 2022 By the end of the 1980s, Mills slowed his breakneck editorial and runway show pace, deciding to focus on private clients. Alaina Demopoulos, Allure, 26 May 2022 Its integration with the large cloud platforms has put VMware in a position to be a partner for organizations moving data from their private data centers to the cloud. Aaron Tilley, WSJ, 26 May 2022 The private residence remains a monument to creativity and self-expression and is worth a sidewalk gander. Tanya Ward Goodman, Washington Post, 26 May 2022 According to prosecutors, several victims sent payments totaling in excess of $25 million through interstate wire transfers and private and commercial carriers. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, 26 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Earlier Saturday, a 27-year-old Ukrainian private was sprinting to shelter across the asphalt when he was knocked from his feet by a shell. Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2022 It was involved in a record 14 acquisitions last year, including the take private of U.S. health-care software company Inovalon Holdings Inc. for $7.3 billion including debt -- its biggest-ever buy. Jan-henrik Foerster,, 16 Feb. 2022 Among then was a pardon for a Civil War solider in the Union Army named Patrick Murphy, a private who had been court-martialed for desertion and condemned to death. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 25 Dec. 2021 Butler National Golf Club is an exclusive private, members only golf club, located in Oak Brook. Pioneer Press Staff,, 26 Oct. 2021 Now, both Albrecht and the village of La Roquebrussanne sponsor the private's burial place. Bebe Hodges, The Enquirer, 18 Aug. 2021 Each morning, dozens of adventurers arrive at Lees Ferry to start either a private of commercial raft trip down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon. Melissa Yeager, The Arizona Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Stewart trades movie-star glam for Army camo in this gripping military drama that stars the actress as a very green private assigned to a mostly male group of guards at Guantanamo Bay. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2021 The Marine private expelled a heavy shunt of air, a big smile appearing on his face. oregonlive, 9 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of private


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for private


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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Dictionary Entries Near private



private attorney

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Statistics for private

Last Updated

28 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Private.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for private


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



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


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on private

Nglish: Translation of private for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of private for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about private


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