follow Dictionary.com

Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!

privacy

[prahy-vuh-see; British also priv-uh-see] /ˈpraɪ və si; British also ˈprɪv ə si/
noun, plural privacies for 5, 6.
1.
the state of being apart from other people or concealed from their view; solitude; seclusion:
Please leave the room and give me some privacy.
2.
the state of being free from unwanted or undue intrusion or disturbance in one's private life or affairs; freedom to be let alone: Tourists must respect the tribe’s privacy.
Those who wish to smoke can do so in the privacy of their own homes.
3.
freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal data or information, as by a government, corporation, or individual: Ordinary citizens have a qualified right to privacy.
There is so much information about us online that personal privacy may be a thing of the past.
4.
the state of being concealed; secrecy:
Before he told us of his plans, he insisted on total privacy.
5.
Usually, privacies. Archaic. a personal matter that is concealed; a secret.
6.
Archaic. a private or secluded place.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English privace. See private, -acy
Synonym Study
PRIVACY, SECRECY, ISOLATION, and SEQUESTRATION all refer to keeping someone or something protected or hidden from others. PRIVACY and SECRECY are particularly concerned with preventing others from knowing about one's actions, thoughts, and communications. In general, SECRECY implies that people who are not directly involved in a matter are completely unaware of it; whereas PRIVACY implies only that those who are not involved, though aware of the matter, are prevented from knowing the details. For example, a teenager might keep a private diary, which her parents know about but which is kept locked so that they cannot read it, or a secret diary, the very existence of which is kept hidden from her parents. Or the leaders of two countries might meet in private, meaning that the fact of the meeting might be widely known but only the leaders themselves know what they said to each other; but if they want to meet in secret, they take steps to prevent the general public from finding out that the meeting took place at all.
ISOLATION and SEQUESTRATION generally signify physical separation. In contrast to PRIVACY and SECRECY, which are usually sought by the individuals involved, ISOLATION and SEQUESTRATION are often imposed by others. For example, a vulnerable medical patient might be kept in isolation to protect him from acquiring an infection through contact with others, or a prisoner might be placed in isolation—that is, in solitary confinement—as punishment for an infraction. SEQUESTRATION can refer to things as well as to people, and is most often used to specify separation in technical or legal contexts: Carbon sequestration in the coal industry can potentially alleviate the problem of global warming; Sequestration of the jury she was serving on kept her away from her family for weeks; Until its leaders comply with international agreements, sequestration of that nation's overseas bank accounts will remain in effect.
One wants to keep one's secrets secret, and as well, keep many aspects of one's life private. But the ability of powerful corporations, government intelligence agencies, online stores, social media, or even individual thieves to reach and probe into our personal communications, buying habits, financial resources, circle of friends, and general lifestyle poses threats to one's PRIVACY. Fortunately, for most people, reasonable precautions are usually enough to allow them to engage in normal activities without great worry.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for privacy
  • Colleges and universities may have more leeway to interpret federal privacy law than their officials know.
  • Contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns about our privacy policy.
  • Many issues posing as questions of privacy can turn out to be matters of security, health policy, insurance or self-presentation.
  • These structures create privacy with artful elegance.
  • It checks your privacy settings, tells you what information is locked down and which is public.
  • Courts have long agreed that the legal concept of personal privacy protects individuals, but not corporations.
  • The college has reportedly apologized to the named students for the mistake, a breach of federal privacy law.
  • But the big new fear is to do with the privacy of its users.
  • Companies and individuals are often at odds, concerned either with collecting information or with preserving privacy.
  • Along with privacy concerns, some groups wonder how helpful the additional information will be.
British Dictionary definitions for privacy

privacy

/ˈpraɪvəsɪ; ˈprɪvəsɪ/
noun
1.
the condition of being private or withdrawn; seclusion
2.
the condition of being secret; secrecy
3.
(philosophy) the condition of being necessarily restricted to a single person
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for privacy
n.

1590s, "a private matter, a secret;" c.1600 as "seclusion," from private (adj.) + -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c.1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
privacy in Technology


Where only the intended recipients can read a message.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for privacy

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for privacy

17
19
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with privacy