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 Though as noted earlier, European buyers will have to pay extra for this privilege. John Archer, Forbes, "Samsung QN65QN90A TV Review: Mini LED Marvel," 25 Feb. 2021 The Rockies traded Arenado, didn’t get much back, and paid $51 million for the privilege. Globe Staff,, "Winners and losers — Red Sox not among either — in winter free agency," 20 Feb. 2021 Roma could eventually pay as much as $11 million for the privilege of signing him. New York Times, "Europe Is Mining an Emerging Talent Market: the U.S.," 4 Feb. 2021 In film, Black love stories seldom have the privilege of being just love stories — they're usually tinged with enough trauma to leave you more heartbroken than hopeful. Ineye Komonibo,, "Years Of Traumatic Black Love Stories Left Me Emotionally Unprepared For The Normalcy Of Sylvie’s Love," 30 Dec. 2020 Many parents do not have the privilege of working from home, Walton pointed out. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Prescription for COVID-19 fatigue: Spiritual leaders say simplify life, be generous, listen to your children," 30 Sep. 2020 It’s a privilege earned over 68 years, as the oldest and longest-serving juvenile lifer in the country. al, "Joe Ligon, Alabama farm boy who was America’s oldest juvenile lifer, leaves prison at 82," 12 Feb. 2021 The question of marital privilege where a husband or wife may refuse to testify against his or her defendant spouse as a witness in a criminal case could also come into play, Diamond said. Chase Difeliciantonio, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wife settles, husband still faces charges on allegations of coronavirus-testing fraud," 11 Feb. 2021 Wakeland began life in Indiana, a stranger to privilege. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, "L.A.’s first lady, Amy Wakeland, navigates shifting political fortunes in final Garcetti years," 7 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Reading the Old Testament’s God as primarily harsh is rooted in the Christian tendency to privilege the New Testament over the Torah. The New Yorker, "The Mail," 30 Nov. 2020 Last year, software used by many health systems to prioritize access to special care for chronic conditions was found to systematically privilege white patients over Black patients. Tom Simonite, Wired, "How an Algorithm Blocked Kidney Transplants to Black Patients," 26 Oct. 2020 China also uses trade policy not merely to privilege its companies unfairly, but also to directly harm other countries. Mike Watson, National Review, "Protect Americans, Don’t Bankrupt Them," 16 Sep. 2020 The Senate’s rules privilege the majority, which controls the agenda and floor time. Ben Sasse, WSJ, "Make the Senate Great Again," 8 Sep. 2020 These are people who feel uncomfortable with big pharmaceutical companies and feel mistrust about vaccines, because they’re produced by these companies under a system that seems to privilege profits over the safety of consumers. Kristin Iversen,, "We Tell Ourselves Lies In Order To Buy Things: Eula Biss On Capitalism, Art, & White Women," 2 Sep. 2020 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

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

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Privilege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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Comments on privilege

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