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priv·​i·​lege ˈpriv-lij How to pronounce privilege (audio)
: 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


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privileged; privileging

transitive verb

: to grant a privilege to
: to accord a higher value or superior position to
privilege one mode of discourse over another

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
Bradley refused to answer citing attorney client privilege. Brianna Herlihy, Fox News, 17 Feb. 2024 But Bradley's attorney objected when Merchant began asking him about the relationship, citing attorney-client privilege because Bradley had for a time represented Wade in his divorce case. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 16 Feb. 2024 But academic freedom, experts say, is not about the privileges of professors, but about protecting the university’s core purpose and social value. Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 People rarely date or marry outside their socioeconomic status, which reinforces privilege and class boundaries. TIME, 13 Feb. 2024 Kim Jones understands the privilege of holding a first edition copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, originally purchased in 1922 by artist Vanessa Bell for her sister Virginia Woolf. Grace Banks, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 The panel observed that the Constitution’s text provides no such immunity; and while the Supreme Court has never squarely ruled on the matter, its analogous decisions granting forms of executive immunity and privilege stress that these must bend to the demands of criminal justice. Nr Editors, National Review, 9 Feb. 2024 If you are stopped by law enforcement for driving under the influence, the DMV has the authority to revoke or suspend your driving privilege. Angela Rodriguez, Sacramento Bee, 9 Feb. 2024 By contrast, Navarro proceeded without a lawyer in brushing off the House panel in claiming the privilege. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2024
Iowa’s voters privileged that over seemingly more important factors like whether the candidate can beat Joe Biden in the general election. Nr Staff, National Review, 15 Jan. 2024 For those of us privileged enough to escape the brutality of the state in the service of imperialist extraction, the state has considerably enhanced our longevity, wealth, and happiness. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 30 Nov. 2023 Second, a thorough audit is crucial to determine what access privileges the CEO and other executive officers currently have. Ilia Sotnikov, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 Different, but apparently equal, neither privileged over the other. Nikhil Krishnan, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 Much like the multiplicity of Black and Indigenous characters in a genre that rarely privileges their point of view, the contradictions of Bass’ new career form the backdrop to his main adventures. Alison Herman, Variety, 3 Nov. 2023 Beginning in the 1960s, the United States moved toward a strategy that privileges the limitation of damage against its homeland in a nuclear war. Ankit Panda, The New Republic, 24 Oct. 2023 Since traditional due-diligence processes tend to privilege asset managers with an established track record–most of whom are white and male–my team is experimenting with alternative models of evaluating investment opportunities. Melinda French Gates, Fortune, 13 Nov. 2023 This is a hotel that privileges the senses—taste itself, in all meanings of the word. Matt Ortile, Condé Nast Traveler, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'privilege.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


12th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near privilege

Cite this Entry

“Privilege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
priv·​i·​lege ˈpriv(-ə)-lij How to pronounce privilege (audio)
: a right or liberty granted as a favor or benefit especially to some and not others


2 of 2 verb
privileged; privileging
: to grant a privilege to

Legal Definition


: a right, license, or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit, advantage, or favor: as
: 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

: 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

: 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
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
: 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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on privilege

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