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c : withdrawn from company or observation a private retreat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 Most public and private universities currently have Covid-19 protocols for monitoring students on campus. Buyan Thyagarajan, Forbes, "How To Build Trust With Students During A Pandemic By Leveraging Your CRM," 3 Mar. 2021 The student liaison is chosen in cooperation with public and private high schools in Harford County and applicants should currently be in their junior year and will serve during their senior year. Aegis Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Harford County Public Library seeking candidates for board of trustees, new student representative," 3 Mar. 2021 Without such private intervention, Phuket likely won’t be able to reach herd immunity for at least another year and a half—an untenable situation, said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, "Asia’s Champions of Covid-19 Control Fall Behind on Road to Recovery," 2 Mar. 2021 The complaint comes from Bodil Malmberg, a private citizen in Vårgårda, Sweden. Gretchen Vogel, Science | AAAS, "Critics slam letter in prestigious journal that downplayed COVID-19 risks to Swedish schoolchildren," 2 Mar. 2021 The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported in December that enrollment at public two-year colleges had fallen 10 percent while public and private, nonprofit four-year colleges were virtually unchanged. Washington Post, "Community colleges at a crossroads: Enrollment is plummeting, but political clout is growing," 2 Mar. 2021 America is a rich nation with a robust public and private health infrastructure. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "Why Are Troops Leading the Vaccination Effort?," 2 Mar. 2021 California’s daycares and preschools are a patchwork of public and private programs, with public options largely serving low-income families. Kellie Hwang, San Francisco Chronicle, "Video of Berkeley teachers union chief taking daughter to preschool erupts as flashpoint in reopening battle," 1 Mar. 2021 Lawmakers, civil rights advocates and Gov. Brian Kemp have announced a broad agreement to abolish Georgia's citizen's arrest law, which lets a private citizen make an arrest if a crime is committed in the person's presence. Jeff Amy, ajc, "Bills pile up for Georgia lawmakers as key deadline looms," 28 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Navy lawyers defend two Marines accused of killing a private at the naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘Gandhi’; ‘Forrest Gump’ and more," 26 Feb. 2021 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

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

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Private.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/private. Accessed 9 Mar. 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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