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privilege

[priv-uh-lij, priv-lij]
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noun
  1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
  2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
  3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
  4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
  5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.
  6. an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person: It's my privilege to be here.
  7. Stock Exchange. an option to buy or sell stock at a stipulated price for a limited period of time, including puts, calls, spreads, and straddles.
verb (used with object), priv·i·leged, priv·i·leg·ing.
  1. to grant a privilege to.
  2. to exempt (usually followed by from).
  3. to authorize or license (something otherwise forbidden).

Origin of privilege

1125–75; (noun) Middle English; earlier privilegie (< Old French privilege) < Latin prīvilēgium orig., a law for or against an individual, equivalent to prīvi- (combining form of prīvus one's own) + lēg- (see legal) + -ium -ium; (v.) Middle English privilegen (< Middle French privilegier) < Medieval Latin prīvilēgiāre, derivative of prīvilēgium
Related formspriv·i·leg·er, nounpro·priv·i·lege, adjective

Synonyms

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1. Privilege, prerogative refer to a special advantage or right possessed by an individual or group. A privilege is a right or advantage gained by birth, social position, effort, or concession. It can have either legal or personal sanction: the privilege of paying half fare; the privilege of calling whenever one wishes. Prerogative refers to an exclusive right claimed and granted, often officially or legally, on the basis of social status, heritage, sex, etc.: the prerogatives of a king; the prerogatives of management. 4. license, freedom, liberty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for privilege

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Those less than the very best frankly esteem it a privilege.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Accept them for a dowry; and allow me to claim one privilege in return.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • It is not your privilege as a nation to speak of a distant past.

  • "As she's my mare, perhaps I might have the privilege," said Dick.

    Viviette

    William J. Locke

  • "You will do me a very great favour if you will let me have that privilege," said Austin.

    Viviette

    William J. Locke


British Dictionary definitions for privilege

privilege

noun
  1. a benefit, immunity, etc, granted under certain conditions
  2. the advantages and immunities enjoyed by a small usually powerful group or class, esp to the disadvantage of othersone of the obstacles to social harmony is privilege
  3. any of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of a country by its constitution
    1. the right of a lawyer to refuse to divulge information obtained in confidence from a client
    2. the right claimed by any of certain other functionaries to refuse to divulge informationexecutive privilege
  4. the rights and immunities enjoyed by members of most legislative bodies, such as freedom of speech, freedom from arrest in civil cases during a session, etc
  5. US stock exchange a speculative contract permitting its purchaser to make optional purchases or sales of securities at a specified time over a limited period of timeSee also call (def. 61), put (def. 20), spread (def. 24c), straddle (def. 9)
verb (tr)
  1. to bestow a privilege or privileges upon
  2. (foll by from) to free or exempt

Word Origin

C12: from Old French privilēge, from Latin prīvilēgium law relevant to rights of an individual, from prīvus an individual + lēx law
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

Word Origin and History for privilege

n.

mid-12c. "grant, commission" (recorded earlier in Old English, but as a Latin word), from Old French privilege "right, priority, privilege" (12c.) and directly from Latin privilegium "law applying to one person, bill of law in favor of or against an individual," later "privilege," from privus "individual" (see private (adj.)) + lex (genitive legis) "law" (see legal (adj.)). Meaning "advantage granted" is from mid-14c. in English.

v.

early 14c., privilegen, "to invest with a privilege," from privilege (n.) and from Old French privilegier (13c.), from Medieval Latin privilegare, from Latin privilegium. Related: Privileged; priviledging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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