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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Families that do manage to sit together often have to pay for the privilege, especially on low-cost flights that charge for seating reservations. Stephanie H. Murray, The Week, 19 July 2022 And for the privilege of opening their arms to the world. John Archibald |, al, 17 July 2022 So essentially the game is being tested by superfans who are paying for the privilege. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 11 July 2022 To fill that stage, and essentially build it, the festival depended on its corps of 70 apprentices, most of whom, far from being paid for their work, instead paid for the privilege: $4,250 for tuition, room and board. New York Times, 6 July 2022 Companies looking to use Earth Engine will have to pay for the privilege. Nathaniel Mott, PCMAG, 28 June 2022 Some question why one name should take privilege over the other, and if using just one spouse's name would convey an unequal partnership. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 19 July 2022 Offering unpaid internships reinforces privilege, as working for free is an option available only to the fortunate few. Patricia Mcilreavy, Forbes, 19 July 2022 The protest alleges that Enefit transferred the right to Deseret to avoid seeing the privilege to use the water evaporate. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Although there’s no real reason to situate north at the top of maps, this eventually became the norm — explained in part by European mapmakers wanting to privilege their own positions in the world. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, 23 July 2022 And the commitment went beyond a single show — part of Nicola’s belief that directors are equal partners with playwrights in an American theater system that tends to privilege the latter. New York Times, 13 July 2022 Continuing to privilege bigger firms and more established technology could hit extra hard as the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates in the name of combating inflation. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 22 June 2022 These algorithms privilege certain types of content over others, as they are designed to maximize company profits. Tomas Andren, Forbes, 16 May 2022 Perhaps the Manolo-Birkenstock teamup is an acknowledgement from the foremost king of high heels that many consumers, even luxury shoppers, are ready to privilege comfort over beauty. Rachel Tashjian, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 Mar. 2022 During those hearings, lawmakers questioned Amazon executives about whether third-party seller data was used to develop private-label products or to privilege its own products in search results. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 9 Mar. 2022 These practices are rooted in upholding systemic barriers that privilege larger institutions over smaller, grassroots ones. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, 6 Mar. 2022 The upshot, Butler writes, is that the Method has been diluted by other acting styles that don’t privilege psychological spelunking or total authenticity—think of the Brat Pack, or Bruce Willis. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, 1 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About privilege

Time Traveler for privilege

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near privilege

privies in representation



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Statistics for privilege

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Privilege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for privilege


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

More from Merriam-Webster on privilege

Nglish: Translation of privilege for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of privilege for Arabic Speakers


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