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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
  • People I talked with here get it — they know they're not privy to all the information online.
  • And everyone, it seems, has secrets — secrets to which even the actors aren't privy until each script arrives.
  • But it's safe to suggest that very few are privy to any real actual battle plan that's being drawn.
  • Astor was not privy to the letter or the telephone conversations about the transfer.
  • Nobody knows exactly when these changes occurred because the public isn't privy to the industry's methods.
  • But I've been privy to more spicy fare, including a hiring controversy.
  • It must be great to be privy to such secrets.
  • His privy sits beyond a sandy lane that winds through a low swale known as the Bottom.
  • In the classroom, students are made privy to some of the results of those conversations.
  • It seems that only you are privy to this information.
British Dictionary definitions for privy


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

"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



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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