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[priv-ee] /ˈprɪv i/
adjective, privier, priviest.
participating in the knowledge of something private or secret (usually followed by to):
Many persons were privy to the plot.
private; assigned to private uses.
belonging or pertaining to some particular person, especially with reference to a sovereign.
secret, concealed, hidden, or secluded.
acting or done in secret.
noun, plural privies.
outhouse (def 1).
Law. a person participating directly in or having a derivative interest in a legal transaction.
Origin of privy
1175-1225; Middle English prive < Old French: private (adj.), close friend, private place (noun) < Latin prīvātus private Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for privy to
  • The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
  • The starlings, however, soon were privy to the deception and continued their depredations.
  • The outside world is rarely privy to those kinds of conversations.
  • She was privy to some confidential deliberations about my file.
  • People might be sceptical for many reasons but you are not privy to their motives.
  • Apparently, anyone who is not privy to how this system works is the prey.
  • Investors should be privy to as much information as the rating agencies so that they don't need to rely on them.
  • The latter is particularly important because academics often aren't privy to the latest advances in industrial labs.
  • Best of all, boarders weren't the only ones privy to this amazing bounty.
  • He is privy to politicians' leaks and off-the-record complaints.
British Dictionary definitions for privy to


adjective privier, priviest
(postpositive) foll by to. participating in the knowledge of something secret
(archaic) secret, hidden, etc
(archaic) of or relating to one person only
noun (pl) privies
a lavatory, esp an outside one
(law) a person in privity with another See privity (sense 1)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French privé something private, from Latin prīvātusprivate
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 privy to



"private," early 13c., from Old French privé "friendly, intimate; a private place," from Latin privatus "private, personal" (see private (adj.)). Meaning "participating in (a secret)" (usually with to) is attested from late 14c. Related: Privily. Privy Council is from c.1300 in a general sense; specifically of the British government, first attested late 14c., as consaile priue. Privy member "organ of sex" is from late 13c.


"toilet," c.1200, from Old French privé, privee "latrine," literally "private place," from noun use of adjective privé (see privy (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for privy to



An outdoor toilet without plumbing; backhouse, Chic Sale (1662+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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