adjective, priv·i·er, priv·i·est.

noun, plural priv·ies.

Law. a person participating directly in or having a derivative interest in a legal transaction.

Origin of privy

1175–1225; Middle English prive < Old French: private (adj.), close friend, private place (noun) < Latin prīvātus private Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for privy

Contemporary Examples of privy

Historical Examples of privy

  • After the Privy Council outrage there was very little for Franklin to do.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Paul Elmer More

  • This question was referred to a committee of eight Privy Councillors.

    Browning's England

    Helen Archibald Clarke

  • A reward for your apprehension was actually deliberated at the Privy Council.

    The O'Donoghue

    Charles James Lever

  • Methinks the baker is just as good a man as the privy councillor.

    Debts of Honor

    Maurus Jkai

  • Whereupon Clifton threatened to complain to the Privy Council.

    Shakespearean Playhouses

    Joseph Quincy Adams

British Dictionary definitions for privy


adjective privier or priviest

(postpositive foll by to) participating in the knowledge of something secret
archaic secret, hidden, etc
archaic of or relating to one person only

noun plural privies

a lavatory, esp an outside one
law a person in privity with anotherSee privity (def. 1)

Word Origin for privy

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 privy

"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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper