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


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

boon, concession, honor

Synonyms: Verb

authorize, entitle, qualify

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of privilege in a Sentence


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.


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

These stories are funny and moving and peopled by Southern characters grappling with privilege, tradition, and stasis. Caroline Rogers, Southern Living, "10 Books by Southern Writers We Bet You Haven’t Read Yet," 29 June 2018 Corporations could be powerful allies using their privilege and deep pockets to put people who do real work for the LGBTQ+ community front and center. Wired Staff, WIRED, "The Problem With the 'Rainbow-Washing' of LGBTQ+ Pride," 21 June 2018 The coalition hangs together partly because all parties have agreed on a binding principle: that the constitution and its privileges for Malays are supreme. The Economist, "Malaysia’s ruling party may be gone, but its racial policies survive," 7 June 2018 Other than afford you the honor and privilege to serve alongside some of the most noble men and women that this city has to offer, how have you been mistreated? Monique Judge, The Root, "Black Firefighter Being Burned For Kneeling During the National Anthem," 6 June 2018 Their cultural capital is falling, their privilege checked right and left, their tendency toward violent rage examined, fretted over, diagnosed as an American menace. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "True Crime Meets Male Entitlement in the Electrifying American Animals," 31 May 2018 For more than 15 years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte on Robinson Cano suspension: 'I couldn't believe it'," 15 May 2018 That really only leaves one explanation: Kinder was astonishingly oblivious to his own privilege. Kate Siber, Outside Online, "What We Can Learn from Climbing's Bullying Saga," 15 May 2018 The student-athlete who fully takes advantage of this privilege will get a head start in life. Joseph Goodman,, "NCAA plays it smart by having Condoleezza play stupid," 25 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

We are privileged as a congregation to open our doors to the stranger. Washington Post, "Immigrant mother, 2 children seek sanctuary in church," 28 June 2018 As a matter of practice, the school district does not comment publicly on information involving students or staff that is considered to be privileged. Jenice Armstrong,, "Delaware County middle schooler caught in Twisted Tea debacle was treated too harshly | Jenice Armstrong," 9 May 2018 Expressions of opinion, as opposed to assertions of fact, are privileged, and generally cannot be defamatory. NBC News, "High hurdles for Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against Trump," 1 May 2018 Descriptions of work on legal invoices were vague and the city often heavily redacted them, claiming the information was privileged, before providing them to the AJC. Stephen Deere, ajc, "Atlanta’s legal bills related to corruption probe top $7.5M, AJC finds," 28 June 2018 Historically, such interpreters filter every verse through a lens that privileges acquisition of assets and authority over altruism and our own comfort over compassion. Jonathan L. Walton, Time, "Why Authoritarians Love to Quote This Bible Passage," 22 June 2018 Only 162 of the first 300,000 cases Jones reviewed could be covered by attorney-client privilege, and only three items that Cohen or the Trump organization had designated as privileged were removed. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump’s Personal Fixer Michael Cohen’s Lawyers Have Bailed and He’s Expected to Sing Like 1986 El DeBarge," 13 June 2018 If the lawyer is acting on his own—for the client’s benefit but without the client’s authorization—evidence of the lawyer’s conduct would not be privileged, although evidence of the client’s statements would remain so. Michael B. Mukasey, WSJ, "Trump, Cohen and Attorney-Client Privilege," 17 Apr. 2018 Still, the Garland debacle is a testament to the perils of privileging norms and moderation over substance and base mobilization. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "In Hindsight, Democrats Really Mishandled That Merrick Garland Thing," 26 June 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


12th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for privilege


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


see privilege entry 1


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

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Learn More about privilege

Phrases Related to privilege

be privileged

Statistics for privilege

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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



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



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

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


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.



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

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Comments on privilege

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the setting in which something occurs

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