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 The case of Amy Cooper, also dubbed Central Park Karen, is one of the most recent incidents in which a White woman chose to weaponize her whiteness and leverage her privilege in an attempt to get a Black man in trouble with the law. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "CAREN Act Could Make Racist 911 Calls A Crime," 8 July 2020 But white America had little interest in recognizing its privilege, let alone giving it up, and that goes doubly so for rich, white America. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: NFL's gestures in confronting racism are meaningless so long as Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned," 3 July 2020 Before school had even started, Sposato participated in an orientation program where she was warned not to, in essence, make people feel bad about their privilege. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "Meet Glamour's 2020 College Women of the Year," 1 July 2020 Conscious of her privilege, Jean dedicated much of her life to providing arts programming to children with disabilities. Samantha Power, Time, "'Find the People Who Actually Want to Do Things.' Samantha Power Remembers the Wise Words of Jean Kennedy Smith," 25 June 2020 Forget that the real scandal of our times is actually taking place on the streets, at this very moment, as law enforcement and white Americans reckon with the harm their privilege has wrought. Jason Parham, Wired, "Trump's Latest Antics Are Just Reality TV Rebooted," 25 June 2020 Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Jenny Slate & Kristen Bell Will No Longer Voice Black Animated Characters," 25 June 2020 Letting your privilege go unchecked is not an action. Karen Yuan, Fortune, "Black employees say performative allyship is rampant in the office," 19 June 2020 By all respects, the issues of race for someone of his white privilege might never come up. Sam Blum, Dallas News, "The story of Max Nady, and how his father Scott Nady is teaching him and learning all at the same time," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Indianapolis has been forced to confront the reality of our country’s original sin: government that was designed to privilege one race at the expense of all others. Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis Star, "What prominent community members say should be done to make Indiana better for everyone," 17 June 2020 The Oregonian has been privileged to serve our local communities for nearly 170 years. John Maher, oregonlive, "The Oregonian/OregonLive Announces $2.5 Million in Matching Grants," 10 May 2020 In a way, these anxieties are for the privileged: Only 29% of the American workforce can do their jobs from home. Sophie Alexander,, "School, Office Closures Are Logistical Nightmare for Working Parents," 29 Apr. 2020 The measure limits the system privileges malicious code has, but even then, attackers can use it to create accounts with full user rights, install programs, and view, change, or delete data. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Microsoft patches 3 Windows 0-days under active exploit," 14 Apr. 2020 So, my fellow folks privileged enough to be able to work from home during this crisis, below are some picks in a bunch of that might make working from home more bearable. Julian Chokkattu, Wired, "Everything You Need to Work From Home Like a Pro," 3 Apr. 2020 The target market for this functionality isn't a stumbling end user in the first place; domain joins are by necessity done by the IT professionals who already have privileged Active Directory accounts capable of adding new machines to the domain. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Control Panel isn’t dead yet—but the System applet is looking nervous," 27 Mar. 2020 The economically and medically fragile are at new risk; the cloistered and privileged have only thickened the walls of their bubble. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "We’re Finding Out How Small Our Lives Really Are," 26 Mar. 2020 The elite are truly that — elite — and to dilute this by privileging diversity is a betrayal of core institutional and cultural values. John Warner,, "Is meritocracy a sham? Does diversification sacrifice excellence? Two Yale profs offer views in new books.," 20 Oct. 2019

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

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Privilege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for privilege


How to pronounce privilege (audio)

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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