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privacy

[prahy-vuh-see; British also priv-uh-see] /ˈpraɪ və si; British also ˈprɪv ə si/
noun, plural privacies for 5, 6.
1.
the state of being apart from other people or concealed from their view; solitude; seclusion:
Please leave the room and give me some privacy.
2.
the state of being free from unwanted or undue intrusion or disturbance in one's private life or affairs; freedom to be let alone: Tourists must respect the tribe’s privacy.
Those who wish to smoke can do so in the privacy of their own homes.
3.
freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal data or information, as by a government, corporation, or individual: Ordinary citizens have a qualified right to privacy.
There is so much information about us online that personal privacy may be a thing of the past.
4.
the state of being concealed; secrecy:
Before he told us of his plans, he insisted on total privacy.
5.
Usually, privacies. Archaic. a personal matter that is concealed; a secret.
6.
Archaic. a private or secluded place.
Origin of privacy
late Middle English
1400-1450
First recorded in 1400-50, privacy is from the late Middle English word privace. See private, -acy
Synonym Study
Privacy, secrecy, isolation, and sequestration all refer to keeping someone or something protected or hidden from others. Privacy and secrecy are particularly concerned with preventing others from knowing about one's actions, thoughts, and communications. In general, secrecy implies that people who are not directly involved in a matter are completely unaware of it; whereas privacy implies only that those who are not involved, though aware of the matter, are prevented from knowing the details. For example, a teenager might keep a private diary, which her parents know about but which is kept locked so that they cannot read it, or a secret diary, the very existence of which is kept hidden from her parents. Or the leaders of two countries might meet in private, meaning that the fact of the meeting might be widely known but only the leaders themselves know what they said to each other; but if they want to meet in secret, they take steps to prevent the general public from finding out that the meeting took place at all.
Isolation and sequestration generally signify physical separation. In contrast to privacy and secrecy, which are usually sought by the individuals involved, isolation and sequestration are often imposed by others. For example, a vulnerable medical patient might be kept in isolation to protect him from acquiring an infection through contact with others, or a prisoner might be placed in isolation—that is, in solitary confinement—as punishment for an infraction. Sequestration can refer to things as well as to people, and is most often used to specify separation in technical or legal contexts: Carbon sequestration in the coal industry can potentially alleviate the problem of global warming; Sequestration of the jury she was serving on kept her away from her family for weeks; Until its leaders comply with international agreements, sequestration of that nation's overseas bank accounts will remain in effect.
One wants to keep one's secrets secret, and as well, keep many aspects of one's life private. But the ability of powerful corporations, government intelligence agencies, online stores, social media, or even individual thieves to reach and probe into our personal communications, buying habits, financial resources, circle of friends, and general lifestyle poses threats to one's privacy. Fortunately, for most people, reasonable precautions are usually enough to allow them to engage in normal activities without great worry.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for privacies
Historical Examples
  • In this view it is desirable to be introduced into the privacies of domestic life.

  • If you love the man of letters, seek him in the privacies of his study.

  • This, of course, let her into the privacies of domestic life.

    Ask Momma R. S. Surtees
  • The invader of privacies glanced at the clock in his turn and shook his head.

    The Price Francis Lynde
  • The editor has aimed to avoid all privacies and personalities which might be indelicate in relation to family circles.

    Men of Our Times Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Appearances were 385 against her, but she was determined not to discuss the privacies of her married life.

    The Wind Before the Dawn Dell H. Munger
  • He sought out a solitary place, where, being separated from the communication of man, he might enjoy the privacies of God.

  • And, if we descend to the privacies of life, their habitations are more commodious, and their possessions are more secure.

  • I felt impatient desires to escape from this prison, to return to the privacies of dressing-rooms.

    A Chambermaid's Diary Octave Mirbeau
  • He was the repository of discreet confidences, the inarticulate witness of august privacies.

British Dictionary definitions for privacies

privacy

/ˈpraɪvəsɪ; ˈprɪvəsɪ/
noun
1.
the condition of being private or withdrawn; seclusion
2.
the condition of being secret; secrecy
3.
(philosophy) the condition of being necessarily restricted to a single person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for privacies

privacy

n.

1590s, "a private matter, a secret;" c.1600 as "seclusion," from private (adj.) + -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c.1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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16
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