belonging to some particular person: private property.
pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction.
confined to or intended only for the persons immediately concerned; confidential: a private meeting.
personal and not publicly expressed: one's private feelings.
not holding public office or employment: private citizens.
not of an official or public character: private life.
removed from or out of public view or knowledge; secret: private papers.
not open or accessible to the general public: a private beach.
undertaken individually or personally: private research.
without the presence of others; alone.
solitary; secluded.
preferring privacy; retiring: a very private person.
intimate; most personal: private behavior.
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.
of lowest military rank.
of, pertaining to, or coming from nongovernmental sources: private funding.
a soldier of one of the three lowest enlisted ranks.
privates, private parts.
in private, not publicly; secretly: The hearing will be conducted in private.

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin prīvātus private, literally, taken away (from public affairs), special use of past participle of prīvāre to rob. See deprive, -ate1

privately, adverb
privateness, noun
quasi-private, adjective
quasi-privately, adverb
unprivate, adjective
unprivately, adverb
unprivateness, noun

2. singular, particular, peculiar. 10. sequestered, retired.

2. general, public. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
private (ˈpraɪvɪt)
1.  not widely or publicly known: they had private reasons for the decision
2.  confidential; secret: a private conversation
3.  not for general or public use: a private bathroom
4.  (prenominal) individual; special: my own private recipe
5.  (prenominal) having no public office, rank, etc: a private man
6.  (prenominal) denoting a soldier of the lowest military rank: a private soldier
7.  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
8.  (of a place) retired; sequestered; not overlooked
9.  (of a person) reserved; uncommunicative
10.  in private in secret; confidentially
11.  a soldier of the lowest rank, sometimes separated into qualification grades, in many armies and marine corps: private first class
[C14: from Latin prīvātus belonging to one individual, withdrawn from public life, from prīvāre to deprive, bereave]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., from L. privatus "set apart, belonging to oneself" (not to the state), used in contrast to publicus, communis; originally pp. stem of privare "to separate, deprive," from privus "one's own, individual," from Old L. pri "before." Replaced O.E. syndrig. Grew popular 17c. as a preferred alternative
to the snobbish overtones in common. Meaning "not open to the public" is from late 14c. Of persons, "not holding public office" it is recorded from early 15c. Private soldier "one below the rank of a non-commissioned officer" is from 1570s. Private parts "the pudenda" is from 1785. Private enterprise first recorded 1844. Privacy is first recorded mid-15c. Privatization is attested from 1959; privatize first recorded 1968.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with private, also see free (private) enterprise; in private.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in most armies, the lowest grade of enlisted personnel. In the armies of the United States, Germany, and France, a private ranks below a private first class, who in turn ranks below a corporal. In the army of the People's Republic of China, private second class ranks below private first class. The grade equivalent to private in other branches of the armed services in the United States varies; in the U.S. Navy it is seaman, in the U.S. Air Force, airman.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The czar's servants carried the opulent dishes, perfume bottles and other
  personal items directly to the czar's private chamber.
Private equity partners earn money from their labor, by investing other
  peoples' money.
Private parks are springing up all around the world.
Never before had a large, populated expanse of private land been converted into
  a national park.
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