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c : withdrawn from company or observation a private retreat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 Abdala is being studied by the WHO, and the application for Soberana 02 will be submitted after it’s reviewed by a private research organization to identify any gaps, said Vérez. Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 18 June 2022 The private sector has followed suit, with many companies offering their employees the day off or holiday pay. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 18 June 2022 Moderated by Torrie Newsome, an attorney and a member of the College of Lake County Board of Trustees, men from government, community organizations and the private sector talked about their time as children, fathers and spouses. Steve Sadin, Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2022 Massachusetts’ plan does cover both public- and private-sector workers, regardless of industry. Keith M. Phaneuf, Hartford Courant, 16 June 2022 For example, the debt service ratio for the private nonfinancial sector in South Korea was 21% at the end of last year and 14.5% for Thailand, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Jacky Wong, WSJ, 16 June 2022 In the private sector, with hard work and a bachelor’s degree, a warehouse employee can work their way up to manager and eventually the C-suite. Doug Roberts, Forbes, 16 June 2022 Flores' win comes after a messy campaign season stemming from former Rep. Filemon Vela's resignation from office in March to work as a lobbyist in the private sector. Alisa Wiersema, ABC News, 15 June 2022 White-Hammond wants the city to have more control for another reason: Parks and open space are critical to climate resiliency, something that shouldn’t be left up to the private sector to figure out. Shirley Leung,, 14 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 24-year-old private in the 173rd Airborne Brigade appeared to be just another young soldier, trying to find his way through military life at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ali Winston, Rolling Stone, 5 June 2022 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 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

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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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Last Updated

21 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Private.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 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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