General English

  • adjective which belongs to one person, and is not available to everyone


  • adjective belonging to a single person or to individual people, not to a company or the state

Information & Library Science

  • adjective for the use of one person or group only


  • adjective secret, not shared with others



  • noun the lowest rank in the British and US armies.
  • abbreviationPte


  • adjective not public, limited to a small group


  • adjective belonging to individuals, but not to the state or the general public
  • adjective not holding an official position in a government

Origin & History of “private”

Latin prīvus meant ‘single, individual’. From it was derived the verb prīvāre, source of English deprive (14th c.) and privation (14th c.). this originally meant ‘make solitary, isolate’, and although it later moved on metaphorically to ‘bereave, deprive’, its earliest sense was preserved in the adjective formed from its past participle prīvātus. This denoted ‘belonging to the individual alone’, hence ‘not belonging or related to the state’. English has acquired the word twice: first, via Old French, as the now almost archaic privy (13th c.), and later, directly from Latin, as private. Privilege (12th c.) comes via Old French privilege from Latin prīvilēgium, a compound formed from prīvus and lēx ‘law’ (source of English legal) which etymologically meant ‘law affecting an individual’.