[ prahy-vit ]
See synonyms for: privateprivatesprivatelyprivateness on

  1. belonging to some particular person: private property.

  2. pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction.

  1. confined to or intended only for the persons immediately concerned; confidential: a private meeting.

  2. personal and not publicly expressed: one's private feelings.

  3. not holding public office or employment: private citizens.

  4. not of an official or public character; unrelated to one's official job or position: a former senator who has returned to private life;a college president speaking in his private capacity as a legal expert.

  5. removed from or out of public view or knowledge; secret: private papers.

  6. not open or accessible to the general public: a private beach.

  7. undertaken individually or personally: private research.

  8. without the presence of others; alone: Let's go into another room where we can be private.

  9. solitary; secluded: He wants to meet us in a more private place.

  10. preferring privacy; retiring: a very private person.

  11. intimate; most personal: private behavior.

  12. of, having, or receiving special hospital facilities, privileges, and services, especially a room of one's own and liberal visiting hours: a private room;a private patient.

  13. of lowest military rank.

  14. of, relating to, or coming from nongovernmental sources: private funding.

  1. a soldier of one of the three lowest enlisted ranks.

  2. privates. private parts.

Idioms about private

  1. in private, not publicly; secretly: The hearing will be conducted in private.

Origin of private

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin prīvātus “private,” literally, “taken away (from public affairs),” special use of past participle of prīvāre “to rob”; see deprive, -ate1

Other words for private

Opposites for private

Other words from private

  • pri·vate·ly, adverb
  • pri·vate·ness, noun
  • quasi-private, adjective
  • qua·si-pri·vate·ly, adverb
  • un·pri·vate, adjective
  • un·pri·vate·ly, adverb
  • un·pri·vate·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use private in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for private


/ (ˈpraɪvɪt) /

  1. not widely or publicly known: they had private reasons for the decision

  2. confidential; secret: a private conversation

  1. not for general or public use: a private bathroom

  2. (prenominal) individual; special: my own private recipe

  3. (prenominal) having no public office, rank, etc: a private man

  4. (prenominal) denoting a soldier of the lowest military rank: a private soldier

  5. of, relating to, or provided by a private individual or organization, rather than by the state or a public body: the private sector; private housing

  6. (of a place) retired; sequestered; not overlooked

  7. (of a person) reserved; uncommunicative

  8. in private in secret; confidentially

  1. a soldier of the lowest rank, sometimes separated into qualification grades, in many armies and marine corps: private first class

Origin of private

C14: from Latin prīvātus belonging to one individual, withdrawn from public life, from prīvāre to deprive, bereave

Derived forms of private

  • privately, adverb

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with private


In addition to the idiom beginning with private

  • private eye

also see:

  • free (private) enterprise
  • in private

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.