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c : withdrawn from company or observation a private retreat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 The exploitation of this resource began in the early 20th century, when a private company, the Tata Group, acquired Adivasi land without proper compensation, forcing the first wave of migration from the region. Gladson Dungdung, Scientific American, "India's Coronavirus Refugees Are Also Development Refugees," 20 June 2020 The launch was also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sent astronauts into orbit. Fox News, "NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover: What you need to know," 19 June 2020 Amazon is using a private company to test some employees. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "OSHA investigates COVID complaints at Amazon warehouses in Kenosha," 19 June 2020 The statement comes nearly two months after the Alabama National Guard and a private cleaning company were brought in to deep clean units. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "Nursing home in Mobile where 25 died of COVID-19 now clear of virus, according to owners," 17 June 2020 The private prison company GEO Group, which has landed lucrative government contracts during the Trump administration, has rented event space and hotel rooms from the Trump Organization. Walter M. Shaub Jr., The New York Review of Books, "Ransacking the Republic," 17 June 2020 An analysis of 50,000 tests by Werlabs AB, a private company, shows that about 14% of people tested over the past six weeks in the Stockholm region have developed Covid-19 antibodies. Niclas Rolander, Fortune, "Sweden’s top epidemiologist at a loss to explain why herd immunity is going ‘surprisingly slow’," 17 June 2020 Nishimoto works as a shift commander for Falck USA, a private ambulance company that contracts with Alameda County to respond to emergencies. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, CNN, "No 'rule book' for EMTs responding to protests amid a pandemic," 15 June 2020 Then Tyson hired a private company to take over testing, and the information suddenly slowed to a trickle. Michael Grabell, ProPublica, "Emails Reveal Chaos as Meatpacking Companies Fought Health Agencies Over COVID-19 Outbreaks in Their Plants," 12 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The rebel scion of a prominent Charleston, S.C., family, Mr. Rittenberg, who joined and quit the American Communist Party, arrived in China as an Army private just as World War II ended. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Sidney Rittenberg, Idealistic American Aide to Mao Who Evolved to Counsel Capitalists, Dies at 98," 24 Aug. 2019 After a year in New York, Fonda made his Broadway debut, playing an Army private in Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. Duane Byrge, Billboard, "Peter Fonda, 'Easy Rider' Architect And Counter-Cultural Icon, Dies At 79," 16 Aug. 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

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Private.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/private. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for private

private

adjective
How to pronounce private (audio)

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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