privilege

noun
priv·​i·​lege | \ˈpriv-lij, ˈpri-və-\

Definition of privilege 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office

privilege

verb
privileged; privileging

Definition of privilege (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to grant a privilege to

2 : to accord a higher value or superior position to privilege one mode of discourse over another

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for privilege

Synonyms: Noun

appanage (also apanage), boon, concession, honor

Synonyms: Verb

authorize, entitle, qualify

Antonyms: Verb

disqualify

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of privilege in a Sentence

Noun

It is evolving into an elite institution, open chiefly to the well-educated few. In short, marriage is becoming yet another form of privilege. — Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Commonweal, 2 Dec. 2005 The oldest of the students, she had become a confidante of Fern's and she alone was allowed to call her by her first name. It was not a privilege the others coveted. — Edward P. Jones, The Known World, 2003 But the two were grown in the same petri dish of power, prep school and privilege. — Howard Fineman, Newsweek, 16 Oct. 2000 Good health care should be a right and not a privilege. We had the privilege of being invited to the party. I had the privilege of knowing your grandfather. He lived a life of wealth and privilege.

Verb

The new tax laws unfairly privilege the rich. only professionals who meet the education and experience requirements set by law are privileged to use the title “interior designer” in Oklahoma
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

No amount of money or privilege can actually put people outside of that. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "After 20,000 workers walked out, Google said it got the message. The workers disagree.," 21 Nov. 2018 Perhaps privilege is a powerful drug (as insidious as sugar). Angela Helm, The Root, "Chicago PD Settle for $2.5 Million After Police Point Gun at 3-Year-Old," 4 July 2018 These decisions aren’t made without an understanding of very real voter-suppression tactics at play throughout the country and the privilege that comes with being a U.S. citizen who can vote. Clarissa Brooks, Teen Vogue, "Nonvoters Have Valid Criticisms of the United States Government," 16 Nov. 2018 Recently, her team participated in a workshop about privilege and understanding where other people are coming from. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "Microsoft sees modest upticks in representation of women, minority employees," 14 Nov. 2018 Only the oldest grandson of the heir apparent (i.e., Prince Charles) automatically receives that privilege, according to the Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Expecting Their First Child," 15 Oct. 2018 Cohen has until June 25 to review the materials and make any claims of attorney-client privilege; after that, any messages he claims are protected will be reviewed by the Special Master, retired federal judge Barbara Jones. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "FBI recovers WhatsApp, Signal data stored on Michael Cohen’s BlackBerry," 15 June 2018 Second, the privilege is relevant in trials where witnesses testify. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Bryan Colangelo Still Face Legal Consequences After Parting Ways With 76ers?," 7 June 2018 The hack granted CyberZeist administrator privileges, which theoretically allowed the hacker to view all files on the server — not just the ones available to the public. Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News, "Hackers broke partway into Alaska’s election system in 2016. Officials say no damage was done.," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Franklin Roosevelt, scion of New York’s upper crust, opposed the colonialism that Churchill felt privileged to defend. Jonathan W. Jordan, WSJ, "‘The Kremlin Letters’ and ‘The Allies’ Review: The View From the Summit," 30 Nov. 2018 And because its algorithm unintentionally privileges negativity, the greatest rush comes by attacking outsiders: The other sports team. Amanda Taub And Max Fisher, New York Times, "Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match," 21 Apr. 2018 But the autosuggestion tool guarantees that majority perspectives will be consistently privileged over others, right? Sean Illing, Vox, "How search engines are making us more racist," 3 Apr. 2018 Cristiano Ronaldo has joined the Italian champions for a fee just shy of £100m, prompting a wave of tributes from his former Real Madrid colleagues, who have been privileged to play alongside one of the greatest players of all time. SI.com, "Real Madrid Star Linked With Juventus Move After Promise of Cristiano Ronaldo Reunion," 13 July 2018 The young Getty's defiant cluelessness gets across how utterly sheltered and privileged these elites were and why there wasn't much sympathy for his ensuing ordeal. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, ""Trust:" The Getty family gets their own FX series," 24 Mar. 2018 Judge Wood has appointed a special master to oversee the document review and decide whether communications designated as privileged by Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization can be seen by government investigators. Nicole Hong, WSJ, "Attorneys for Michael Cohen, Trump’s Lawyer, Are Quitting His Case," 13 June 2018 Remember Judge Wood had appointed a special master to go through the documents to help Cohen and the president decide what might be privileged material. Fox News, "Larry Kudlow on trade with China, North Korea talks," 31 May 2018 While highly technical, the findings about which records are privileged could shape the contours of the government’s investigation into Mr. Cohen. Benjamin Weiser And Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Former Judge Chosen to Review Materials Seized From Michael Cohen," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'privilege.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of privilege

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for privilege

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin privilegium law for or against a private person, from privus private + leg-, lex law

Verb

see privilege entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about privilege

Statistics for privilege

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for privilege

The first known use of privilege was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for privilege

privilege

noun

English Language Learners Definition of privilege

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others

: a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud

: the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society

privilege

verb

English Language Learners Definition of privilege (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give an advantage that others do not have to (someone or something)

privilege

noun
priv·​i·​lege | \ˈpri-və-lij \

Kids Definition of privilege

1 : a right or liberty granted as a favor or benefit especially to some and not others

2 : an opportunity that is special and pleasant I had the privilege of meeting the president.

privilege

noun
priv·​i·​lege

Legal Definition of privilege 

1 : a right, license, or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit, advantage, or favor: as

a : an exemption from liability where an action is deemed to be justifiable (as in the case of self-defense) or because of the requirements of a position or office also : the affirmative defense that an action is privileged — compare excuse

absolute privilege

: a privilege that exempts a person from liability especially for defamation regardless of intent or motive specifically : a privilege that exempts high public officials (as legislators) from liability for statements made while acting in their official capacity without regard to intent or malice

qualified privilege

: a privilege especially in the law of defamation that may be defeated especially by a showing of actual malice

called also conditional privilege

b : an exemption from a requirement to disclose information (as for trial) that is granted because of a relationship or position that demands confidentiality the attorney-client privilege the doctor-patient privilege the marital privilege the priest-penitent privilege — see also confidential communication

deliberative process privilege

: a privilege exempting the government from disclosure (as in discovery) of government agency materials containing opinions, recommendations, and other communications that are part of the decision-making process within the agency

executive privilege

: a privilege exempting the executive branch of government from disclosing communications if such disclosure would adversely affect the functions and decision-making process of that branch — see also United States v. Nixon

Note: Executive privilege is based on the separation of powers doctrine. In United States v. Nixon, the Supreme Court held that this privilege is not absolute and that without a claim of a need to protect military, diplomatic, or national security secrets, the need for evidence in a criminal trial will outweigh a general assertion of executive privilege.

informant's privilege

: the privilege of the government to withhold the identity of an informant who has provided evidence for a criminal trial

called also informer's privilege

journalist's privilege

: reporter's privilege in this entry

privilege against self-incrimination

: a privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting a person from compulsion to make self-incriminating statements

reporter's privilege

: a privilege protecting a reporter from compulsion to reveal information acquired in the course of gathering news

called also journalist's privilege

c : something specially permitted or granted as a matter of discretion that may be limited or taken away right to…mooring permit is not necessarily created because discretionary state privilege was generously granted in [the] pastNational Law Journal — compare right

d in the civil law of Louisiana : a right of a creditor conferred by the nature of a debt to have priority over the debtor's other creditors

2 : any of various fundamental or specially sacred rights considered as particularly guaranteed to all persons by a constitution and especially by the privileges and immunities clause of the U.S. Constitution

History and Etymology for privilege

Latin privilegium law affecting a specific person, special right, from privus private + leg- lex law

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on privilege

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!