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[priv-it] /ˈprɪv ɪt/
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.
Origin of privet
1535-45; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for privet
Historical Examples
  • The houses are fancifully painted, and half hidden behind a privet hedge and a row of elms.

    Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • And then the old tavern came into sight behind its new hedge of privet.

    Athalie Robert W. Chambers
  • The Chinese privet, of twenty feet stature, in perennial leaf, was saving its flowers for May.

    The Amateur Garden George W. Cable
  • Sometimes these elevations are crowned with privet or some light hedge-plant.

  • From the window she could see over the privet hedge and down the road, but there was no sign of Edgar yet.

    Gray youth Oliver Onions
  • Used a great deal for hedges before the days of the California privet.

    Carpentry and Woodwork Edwin W. Foster
  • The only thing between his father's place and my father's place is a privet hedge, not high enough to be a barrier.

    Peggy Raymond's Way Harriet Lummis Smith
  • It comes freely to sugar, and has been taken at privet blossom.

  • Behind is a garden about the size of a good drawing-room, with an arbour, which is a complete sentry-box of privet.

    Our Village Mary Russell Mitford
  • privet can easily be grown from cuttings, and I have raised Box from clippings.

    A Woman's Hardy Garden Helena Rutherfurd Ely
British Dictionary definitions for privet


  1. any oleaceous shrub of the genus Ligustrum, esp L. vulgare or L. ovalifolium, having oval dark green leaves, white flowers, and purplish-black berries
  2. (as modifier): a privet hedge
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
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
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Word Origin and History for privet

type of evergreen shrub, 1540s, of unknown origin. Early forms primet, primprint perhaps suggest some connection with prime [Klein].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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