pri·​vat·​ize | \ ˈprī-və-ˌtīz How to pronounce privatize (audio) \
privatized; privatizing; privatizes

Definition of privatize

transitive verb

: to make private especially : to change from public to private control or ownership privatize an industry The mayor's threat to privatize trash collection shook things up. — Jeff Bailey

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Other Words from privatize

privatization \ ˌprī-​və-​tə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce privatization (audio) \ noun

Examples of privatize in a Sentence

The city decided to privatize the municipal power company. a proposal to privatize the health-care system

Recent Examples on the Web

Griebel also wants to privatize the Department of Economic and Community Development, which has been known for providing loans and grants to businesses during Malloy’s tenure. Christopher Keating,, "Oz Griebel Shooting for 200,000 New Jobs in 10 Years," 5 June 2018 The government said there were no plans to privatize SNCF. Judith Vonberg And Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, "French rail workers are striking 2 days out of 5 for the next 3 months," 3 Apr. 2018 But Congress, sensing a threat to existing government programs, had the knives out for budgets that would privatize these kinds of services. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin," 21 Sep. 2018 Ryanism — the belief in privatizing Social Security and Medicare, shrinking the national debt, and solving poverty through, among other things, cutting social safety nets — has been pushed to the wayside. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Paul Ryan wants you to know he has identified what’s wrong with the Republican Party," 17 Dec. 2018 Shulkin defended the spending and called it a pretext by Trump loyalists to undermine his position, specifically his opposition to the administration’s proposals to privatize VA medical services. Brian Macquarrie,, "A look at the VA’s troubled recent history," 29 Mar. 2018 Ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin had his own travel scandal but also resisted the White House’s agenda to privatize much of the VA. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Scott Pruitt’s bizarre condo scandal and mounting ethics questions, explained," 5 Apr. 2018 Before becoming education secretary, Devos was best known as an advocate for the effort to privatize public education in Michigan. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "Betsy DeVos was asked, again, about visiting struggling schools. A staffer interjected.," 28 Apr. 2018 Alliance President Shelley Potter has called the move to privatize schools a form of gentrification. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "Proposed SAISD deal with charter detailed," 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'privatize.' 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 privatize

1948, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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The first known use of privatize was in 1948

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English Language Learners Definition of privatize

: to remove (something) from government control and place it in private control or ownership


transitive verb
pri·​va·​tize | \ ˈprī-və-ˌtīz How to pronounce privatize (audio) \
privatized; privatizing

Legal Definition of privatize

: to make private especially : to change (as a business or industry) from public to private control or ownership

Other Words from privatize

privatization \ ˌprī-​və-​tə-​ˈzā-​shən, -​ˌtī-​ How to pronounce privatization (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on privatize

Spanish Central: Translation of privatize

Comments on privatize

What made you want to look up privatize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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