any of various deciduous or evergreen shrubs of the genus Ligustrum, especially L. vulgare, having clusters of small white flowers and commonly grown as a hedge.

1535–45; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
privet (ˈprɪvɪt)
a.  any oleaceous shrub of the genus Ligustrum, esp L. vulgare or L. ovalifolium, having oval dark green leaves, white flowers, and purplish-black berries
 b.  (as modifier): a privet hedge
[C16: of unknown origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

type of evergreen shrub, 1540s, of unknown origin. Early forms primet, primprint (1548) perhaps suggest some connection with prime.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Subsidies are not only wasteful uses of government spending, but also channel privet investment into wasteful pursuits.
Once sprouted, privet can form dense thickets which displace native plants.
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