privilege

noun
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

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for privilege

Synonyms: Noun

appanage (also apanage), boon, concession, honor

Synonyms: Verb

authorize, entitle, qualify

Antonyms: Verb

disqualify

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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

Lawmakers narrowed that privilege based on concerns that the petitions could be filed vindictively. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland's strict gun laws could not prevent Capital Gazette shooting, spurring talk of changes," 2 July 2018 Those determinations are important because any file covered by that privilege could be withheld from the prosecutors who are investigating Mr. Cohen’s various business projects, including some involving Mr. Trump. New York Times, "Judge Denies Trump’s Secrecy Claim in Review of Cohen Documents," 8 June 2018 The violation paused that privilege, and he was required to carry a cellphone so he could be tracked by location. Patricia Sullivan, Washington Post, "Man who shot Alexandria police officer released with conditions from mental hospital," 7 June 2018 The online show trials serve mainly to insulate their institutions and their existing positions of privilege from those outside their elite precincts of Byzantine social codes and Mandarin judicial language. James Panero, WSJ, "Where’s the Mercy in ‘Social Justice’?," 23 Jan. 2019 Remember that the advice is generally given from a place of privilege, folks telling you what to do from their own set of identities and experiences. Cody Charles, Teen Vogue, "College Advice for Students of Marginalized Identities," 21 Nov. 2018 So far, the arbiters of the term have been white men of privilege, but so what? refinery29.com, "What Americana Means (And Doesn't) In 2018: From Childish Gambino To Roseanne," 3 July 2018 Women of privilege were still constrained by social rules, including that they were not allowed to dine out by themselves, said Riley. Joan Hunt, Courant Community, "Dynamic Webb House Garden: More Than Just A Pretty Face," 3 July 2018 Working on Kat’s campaign was the privilege of a lifetime. Nika Lomazzo, Teen Vogue, "What It's Like to Help Your Best Friend Win an Election," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This has privileged longer shows—the more looks, the more potential page views. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Fall 2019’s Top 10 Most-Viewed Collections," 11 Mar. 2019 On Monday, Jones said 162 items out of 292,409 items reviewed are privileged. Kara Scannell, CNN, "Attorney for the media asks judge to keep Michael Cohen filings in the public realm," 7 June 2018 The myth privileges the rosy anticipations of politicians and soldiers over the dark expectations of women, African Americans, and civilians who felt dragged into a terrifying future by extremists from both regions. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘Looming Civil War’ Review: Anticipating the Apocalypse," 2 Oct. 2018 Such a solution would need to privilege public interests, not just public awards. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?," 24 Mar. 2014 Kurds make up roughly a fifth of Turkey’s population, and their outsize influence at the polls contrasts sharply with their longtime struggle for recognition in a state that privileges Turkish ethnicity. Kareem Fahim, Washington Post, "Kurdish voters could hold the key in Turkey’s hotly contested election," 22 June 2018 Morrison said if a client emails an attorney, discussing litigation, and mentions a potentially damaging statement made to a person asking what to do, noting the government might be aware of that potential witness, that would be privileged. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Potential privileged emails in Portage mayor's corruption case complicated, expert says," 1 June 2018 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

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

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

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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Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for privilege

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

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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
somewhat formal : 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)

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

privilege

noun
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.

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

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