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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
Recent Examples on the Web
In doing so, indigenous communities gain the privileges and influence of financial partners. Justin Worland/toronto, TIME, 27 June 2024 Things Got Complicated For generations, Georgians have enjoyed the privilege of floating, hunting, and fishing along the state’s major rivers. Dac Collins, Outdoor Life, 26 June 2024
The state privileges traditional nuclear families in which the father is the breadwinner and the mother is in charge of domestic activities and childrearing. Jenny Noyce, JSTOR Daily, 28 June 2024 Instead of creating a fantasy that privileged Trump, however, Graham should have created a fantasy that benefitted the nation. Letters To The Editor, Orlando Sentinel, 24 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for privilege 

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 13 Jul. 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

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