priv·​i·​lege | \ ˈpriv-lij How to pronounce privilege (audio) , 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


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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for privilege

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Orchestras, taking stock of their privilege as wealthy, largely white entities, have begun to rethink the old model, the relentless focus on themselves even in activities that are ostensibly outreach. New York Times, "The Philharmonic Grows in a Shipping Container in Brooklyn," 9 May 2021 Zlotkin aggressively responded when one of the students argued that Zlotkin was showing his White privilege, Williams said. Washington Post, "New Jersey teacher is suspended after calling George Floyd a ‘criminal’ in virtual class," 3 May 2021 Just before closing arguments, Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege to not testify. Kevin Mccoy, USA TODAY, "First juror in Derek Chauvin trial to speak publicly says he didn't feel pressure to reach a guilty verdict," 28 Apr. 2021 Television personalities have posted on social media about their trips, attracting the scorn of many viewers who accused them of flaunting their privilege. Olga R. Rodriguez And Marcos Martínez Chacón, The Christian Science Monitor, "No vaccines? Wealthy Latin Americans fly to the US.," 21 Apr. 2021 So let the man use his privilege to shield and protect the woman, an old role deployed for a modern purpose. Liza Mundy, The Atlantic, "The Power of the First Lady," 20 Apr. 2021 Television personalities have posted on social media about their trips, attracting the scorn of many viewers who accused them of flaunting their privilege. Olga R. Rodriguez And Marcos Martinez Chacon, Star Tribune, "Wealthy Latin Americans flock to US in search of vaccines," 20 Apr. 2021 Outside the Republican Party, there isn’t a lot of lenience for men who abuse their privilege and authority. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Is Scott Rudin’s apology enough? A new era demands more," 18 Apr. 2021 Fox News reported in March that Jansen had asked students to answer for their White privilege. Jonathan Garber, Fox News, "Chicagoland prep school Loyola may have violated civil rights of conservative students, Army vet," 9 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The schema might well privilege property, including property in slaves, and might also exalt native white men over all others, but did not in any other way confer political authority based on hereditary birth status. Akhil Reed Amar, Time, "The Story Behind the Declaration of Independence's Most Memorable Line," 7 May 2021 That is, bureaucracy run amok can privilege process over purpose, supplant learning with punishment, and impede a company’s response to changing customer needs. Peter Cohan, Forbes, "After 60% Stock Pop, How Adobe Will Sustain Its 20% Growth," 8 Apr. 2021 Telling an aspiring writer to privilege crisp dialogue and an interior sense of character is like insisting toddlers study cuneiform before learning their ABCs. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, "Ken Burns’ new Hemingway documentary doesn’t give you a reason to read Hemingway," 5 Apr. 2021 Increasingly, trade and investment treaties privilege investors over governments and enable international corporations to bypass scientific evidence and challenge public health policies enacted through national democratic processes. Nicholas Freudenberg, STAT, "Corporate versus public control of science and technology: Forging a framework for the 21st Century," 3 Apr. 2021 Why should state and federal policies privilege the young, healthy and occasionally reckless? NBC News, "Amazon workers struggle for union rights, Chauvin trial Day 2 and Covid's mysterious origins," 30 Mar. 2021 Now Disney will hold off on theatrical exclusivity and put much of its hope in Disney Plus, while WB will privilege theaters over HBO Max. Washington Post, "Disney to move ‘Black Widow,’ one of the first big movies scheduled to reopen theaters, to Disney Plus," 23 Mar. 2021 But people outside of these populations almost never notice how their environment is designed to privilege some behaviors over others, noted Canham, who teaches a course at the U. Taylor Stevens, The Salt Lake Tribune, "How city design limits the homeless from camping, sleeping in public spaces in Salt Lake City," 21 Mar. 2021 Their words are important; their actions even more so in leading us to understand and change norms, values, and behaviors that unfairly privilege some individuals and groups over others. al, "Mission Alabama: Looking backward to keep marching forward," 2 Mar. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of privilege


12th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for privilege

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for privilege

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for privilege

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Privilege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for privilege



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



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

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


priv·​i·​lege | \ ˈpri-və-lij How to pronounce privilege (audio) \

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.



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

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