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[priv-uh-lij, priv-lij] /ˈprɪv ə lɪdʒ, ˈprɪv lɪdʒ/
a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most:
the privileges of the very rich.
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.
a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government:
We enjoy the privileges of a free people.
an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person:
It's my privilege to be here.
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), privileged, privileging.
to grant a privilege to.
to exempt (usually followed by from).
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 forms
privileger, noun
proprivilege, adjective
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for privileges
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There are others, perhaps, who have not been fully sensible of the privileges which they enjoyed.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • We have asked for no privileges we would not extend to others.

  • The white man's prestige and privileges were invested in him.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • Doubtless his new ethereal form has its capacities and privileges.

    A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald
  • They will not readily yield up their scapegoat or sacrifice their privileges.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
British Dictionary definitions for privileges


a benefit, immunity, etc, granted under certain conditions
the advantages and immunities enjoyed by a small usually powerful group or class, esp to the disadvantage of others: one of the obstacles to social harmony is privilege
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 information: executive privilege
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
(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 time See also call (sense 61), put (sense 20), spread (sense 24c), straddle (sense 9)
verb (transitive)
to bestow a privilege or privileges upon
(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
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Word Origin and History for privileges



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.



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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