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See more synonyms for privy on Thesaurus.com
adjective, priv·i·er, priv·i·est.
  1. participating in the knowledge of something private or secret (usually followed by to): Many persons were privy to the plot.
  2. private; assigned to private uses.
  3. belonging or pertaining to some particular person, especially with reference to a sovereign.
  4. secret, concealed, hidden, or secluded.
  5. acting or done in secret.
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noun, plural priv·ies.
  1. outhouse(def 1).
  2. Law. a person participating directly in or having a derivative interest in a legal transaction.
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Origin of privy

1175–1225; Middle English prive < Old French: private (adj.), close friend, private place (noun) < Latin prīvātus private
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

latrine, bathroom, lavatory, outbuilding, toilet, outhouse, urinal, restroom, pot, privy, washroom, head, john, throne, commode, can, W.C., potty, johnny

Examples from the Web for privies

Historical Examples

  • Danger, from drainage of barns and barnyards, 137;from leachings from privies and cesspools, 138.

    Rural Hygiene

    Henry N. Ogden

  • Stables and privies must be at least a hundred feet from water reservoirs.

    Civics and Health

    William H. Allen

  • For non-compliance with notice for the construction of drains, privies, &c., 10s.

  • Great attention is to be paid to the cleanliness of the privies.

  • Under these circumstances thorough disinfection of the privies checked the spread of the disease.

British Dictionary definitions for privies


adjective privier or priviest
  1. (postpositive foll by to) participating in the knowledge of something secret
  2. archaic secret, hidden, etc
  3. archaic of or relating to one person only
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noun plural privies
  1. a lavatory, esp an outside one
  2. law a person in privity with anotherSee privity (def. 1)
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French privé something private, from Latin prīvātus private
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 privies



"private," early 13c., from Old French privé "friendly, intimate; a private place," from Latin privatus "private, personal" (see private (adj.)). Meaning "participating in (a secret)" (usually with to) is attested from late 14c. Related: Privily. Privy Council is from c.1300 in a general sense; specifically of the British government, first attested late 14c., as consaile priue. Privy member "organ of sex" is from late 13c.

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"toilet," c.1200, from Old French privé, privee "latrine," literally "private place," from noun use of adjective privé (see privy (adj.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper