Definition of private in English:



  • 1Belonging to or for the use of one particular person or group of people only.

    ‘all bedrooms have private facilities’
    ‘his private plane’
    • ‘In February two Scots were jailed for a total of ten years in France after they were caught using a private plane to smuggle drugs into Scotland.’
    • ‘For at least the first ten years of my life he kept a private plane.’
    • ‘It's a facility that's widely used and currently caters for several private planes.’
    • ‘He was forced to relinquish his share of a private plane.’
    • ‘I am rather amazed that anyone questions the right of people to invite whom they choose to their private parties.’
    • ‘He assures me this is one of the safest private planes ever built.’
    • ‘The prank revolved around Michael getting on a private plane only to find out it was falling apart.’
    • ‘I heard one guy say today that he thinks he enjoyed coming here just because he had a private plane to bring him.’
    • ‘They fly around on a 757 and burn more fuel than most average private planes!’
    • ‘For golfers who belong to private clubs, getting a handicap is routine.’
    • ‘All cabins with full private facilities, including air conditioning’
    • ‘Darknets are gated communities that run on the Internet but are open only to those who belong to the private network.’
    • ‘But the reason not everyone has a helicopter or a private plane is only partly the expense and inconvenience.’
    • ‘About a month ago I flew into Amsterdam with them, on this tiny private plane.’
    • ‘Well-maintained private resort facilities are also available around the CTR.’
    • ‘Had they chartered a private plane to fly them en masse to Edinburgh?’
    • ‘The road was once a private avenue and belonged to the Church of Our Lady of Health.’
    • ‘So I take all sorts of planes, from private jet to EasyJet.’
    • ‘The Mexican authorities demanded she be put on a private plane, while the Brazilians booked her on a regular commercial flight.’
    • ‘In fact, in Australia, fewer women belong to private golf clubs now than they did 20 years ago.’
    • ‘The present complex features a restaurant and a lodge with eight beautifully equipped bedrooms with private facilities.’
    personal, one's own, individual, particular, special, exclusive, privately owned
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    1. 1.1(of a conversation, activity, or gathering) involving only a particular person or group, and often dealing with matters that are not to be disclosed to others.
      ‘this is a private conversation’
      ‘a small private service in the chapel’
      • ‘The hall is owned by Braintree Council and is let out for private functions.’
      • ‘There were no interviews inside the hotel, the press was told by handlers: this was a private function.’
      • ‘Later, however, he admitted that regular private functions (probably at least once a week) would not be so quiet.’
      • ‘There was a private function on but I thought I could just mingle in.’
      • ‘We were in the beer garden outside a pub on the Thames, and there was a private function in a sectioned off part of the ‘garden’.’
      • ‘Under 18's will only be permitted in a pub after 9pm for private functions at which meals are served.’
      • ‘Weddings, party nights and private functions already booked will now have to be rearranged.’
      • ‘I was once working a private function, and four of us were slammed with about 150 cars arriving at the same time.’
      • ‘While plans are still at an early age, MSPs have ruled out the use of any space for private functions such as parties or weddings.’
      • ‘The group will travel this Saturday to Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny, to attend a private function.’
      • ‘The group is available for private functions by arrangement with Mr Powell.’
      confidential, strictly confidential, secret, top secret, classified, unofficial, off the record, not for publication, not to be made public, not to be disclosed, closet
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    2. 1.2(of thoughts and feelings) not to be revealed to others.
      ‘she felt awkward at intruding on private grief’
      • ‘Still, it was more anger and private anguish than surprise that made her turn to look at him sharply.’
      • ‘Yet, again, she published a poem at odds with her most private feelings.’
      • ‘Even if his visit were motivated by his private feelings, he ought to bear in mind his position as prime minister.’
      • ‘Was I now so comfortable in a synagogue or holy site that I could let my private feelings show?’
      • ‘The benches in the locker room sit up against the lockers for a more private feeling.’
      • ‘He is expected to recall his private fears that he had been a ‘bad parent’.’
      • ‘And he tells us of his grey periods, too, just as we would share our private grief with close friends.’
      • ‘How far do private feelings and sentiments influence decisions that are intended to impact society as a whole?’
      • ‘She is a hunter too, but whatever her private feelings, she knows that the law must be upheld.’
      • ‘But the murder of the two ten-year-old Soham girls has sent shockwaves of grief far beyond the private agony of their families.’
      • ‘Whatever his private feelings, he came up with exactly the correct understatement for the Cenotaph.’
      • ‘My mixed emotions were private, and I felt incredibly bare each time I felt the need to tell her.’
      • ‘Each of us had to learn to cope with the loss in his own private way.’
      • ‘No word on how the wife liked having her private feelings turned into a giant political display.’
      • ‘A source of aggravation could be your temporary inability to sort out intensely private feelings.’
      • ‘It went from private feelings of bitterness into a tidal wave of protest that forced its way into the mainstream.’
      • ‘It is clear that personal attacks hurt, and he protects his private life and private feelings very closely.’
      • ‘On the one hand his patience had been delightfully rewarded, but on the other hand he had intruded on their private pleasures and had alarmed them.’
      • ‘A world where private feelings are private and even very old friends and colleagues call each other by title and surname.’
      • ‘It flourishes on the back of faxes and in the margins of copybooks, doodles reveal a billion private boredoms.’
      intimate, personal, secret
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    3. 1.3(of a person) choosing not to reveal their thoughts and feelings to others.
      ‘he was a very private man’
      • ‘What and how you think should be private unless you choose to share it.’
      • ‘However, the reason is intensely private: I choose to protect my melancholy object by not naming it publicly.’
      • ‘My mom chooses to be more private, and she lives in the western part of the United States.’
      • ‘The extraordinary thing is that this man with an opportunity to be paraded about in the public eye has chosen to remain private.’
      • ‘Friends recall him as a private man, a man who did not often reveal his feelings.’
      • ‘She was a private person, often revealing herself more in her drawings than in anything she said.’
      reserved, introvert, introverted, self-contained, reticent, discreet, uncommunicative, non-communicative, media-shy, unforthcoming, secretive, retiring, ungregarious, unsocial, unsociable, withdrawn, solitary, insular, reclusive, hermit-like, hermitic
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    4. 1.4(of a place) quiet and free from people who may interrupt.
      ‘can we go somewhere a little more private?’
      • ‘If you're in a private place, it's a different story - but is still covered by existing law.’
      • ‘Discover a private place of solitude and get in touch with your inner emotions and thoughts through body awareness.’
      • ‘You might also want to designate a quiet, private space where you can dim the lights and play your favorite relaxing music.’
      • ‘So they kept the grassy field and my father uses it as a private place to eat his meals when he wants to be alone.’
      • ‘The stage is set in three connected spaces that represent a private place for each of the women.’
      • ‘As if by instinct, he retreats to the woodshed, a quiet and private place where he sometimes goes just to sit and think.’
      • ‘Edwin and Nancy headed down to the gardens to find a private place for Nancy to sober up.’
      • ‘Once a day lacqueys brought us food and water and took us to a more private place to go to the bathroom.’
      • ‘It was her private place she came to whenever she had a spare moment to herself.’
      • ‘Most poignantly, Frusciante stands stagefront with his eyes closed, lashing out searing solos that seem to come from a very private place.’
      • ‘I try to tell her that I am fourteen and should have some things I can call my own in a private place like my bedroom.’
      • ‘On the one hand, he often drew aside into a private place (such as a mountain) to spend time communing with his Father.’
      • ‘The park was not a private place, but at night it was a good place to let you think, if you needed to escape for a minute or two.’
      • ‘I don't know why I had brought Scarlett, as this was my private place, but something had just urged me to do it.’
      • ‘We had been told at NIDA to hold in everything until we were in a private place, and not to show anyone any signs of how we felt or anything.’
      • ‘It works best sky clad (for obvious reasons) so it's good to do in a private place.’
      • ‘We didn't go where we normally go; we went out into the country to a little private place.’
      • ‘Find a private place where you start to release anger safely by screaming, hitting a pillow, or by crying - you may need the help of a therapist.’
      • ‘It's a bird watcher's haven, a private place for retreats and most importantly a community project.’
      • ‘All you can do is ensure you have enough food, a smile on your face, and a very private place to scream expletives at the top of your lungs.’
      secluded, secret, quiet, undisturbed, concealed, hidden, remote, isolated, out of the way, sequestered
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    5. 1.5[predicative](especially of two people) alone and undisturbed by others.
      ‘we can phone from the library—we'll be private in there’
      • ‘In the absence of tragedy and terror, they were left undisturbed to create private, coded worlds.’
      • ‘He needed some private moments alone to reshuffle his current emotions.’
      • ‘What Caroline didn't know was that he took a lease on the entire floor so they may be private when they chose to be.’
      • ‘So most of that stuff is just kind of a way for me to be private, and alone, and my daughter rides horses, and my wife does.’
      • ‘"Could we go somewhere private to talk?’
      undisturbed, uninterrupted, without disturbance, without interruption
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  • 2(of a person) having no official or public role or position.

    ‘the paintings were sold to a private collector’
    • ‘Despite his poor health, the pontiff has a busy agenda, with regular public appearances and private audiences.’
    • ‘I am disturbed that under this new parliament we are seeing a private individual buying public opinion.’
    • ‘In a moment, the word was flashing across radio and TV nets to military officials and private citizens.’
    • ‘In 1856 he took up a position as a private tutor close to Washington and he often travelled to that city to study mathematics in the libraries there.’
    • ‘Israel encourages concealed-carry of handguns in public by private citizens.’
    • ‘Future revenue would be paid to private individuals, and public spending would be financed by income tax.’
    • ‘All our funding is matched by money from public or private partners and the local community is heavily involved in the decision-making.’
    • ‘In Texas a single faculty member spoke through the public media as a private citizen.’
    • ‘Legislation in all states covers public as well as private employees.’
    • ‘Every individual should also be able to ascertain which public authorities or private individuals or bodies control or may control their files.’
    • ‘Thus we each live a double life: equal public citizens and atomistic private individuals.’
    • ‘These are issues that Bulgarian public servants and private citizens must address.’
    • ‘If he wants you to act a poor man, a cripple, a public official, or a private person, see that you act it with skill.’
    • ‘Anyone can access it: companies big and small, public institutions and private individuals.’
    • ‘Great effort is made to show both the public and the private man - the mortal life behind that immortal name.’
    • ‘The achievement of these goals depends on cooperation by public and private leaders.’
    • ‘If memory serves me right DN1 belonged to a private car owner who bequeathed the number plate to the City of York.’
    • ‘A not-for-profit trust will not achieve savings if it uses private builders and public workers.’
    • ‘This is rubbish - people are quite prepared to chip in as private individuals to public monuments that they support.’
    • ‘The public fall of a private person is nothing new in our age or any other.’
    1. 2.1Not connected with one's work or official position.
      ‘the ambassador visited the school in a private capacity’
      • ‘This was so whether or not the accused was abroad on official business or in a private capacity.’
      • ‘And it objected to any journalists attending the taping yesterday, even in a private capacity.’
      • ‘Gardaí in Killarney stressed they were here in a private capacity and not part of an official Swedish army party.’
      • ‘The salaries, together with expenses, will be in addition to the money they earn in their private capacity.’
      • ‘Washington issued the visa despite strong protests from China, arguing that Tang was visiting in a private capacity.’
      • ‘But none of them answered a question about how each of the trusts is constituted if it is a trust in a private capacity.’
      • ‘And he emphasises he is making his comments in his private capacity.’
      • ‘Gifts received in a private capacity by Royals were treated in the same way as gifts to anyone else, he said.’
      • ‘Lee said that he was visiting Taiwan in a private capacity.’
      • ‘But you should not interfere with the private affairs of Professor Yang.’
      • ‘Two people, who are nonsubvented, have chosen to remain living at Dromore in a private capacity.’
      • ‘The ambassador visited the school in a private capacity as a guest of the Indus International School.’
      • ‘Often there is no connection between one's private behavior and political positions.’
      • ‘By contrast, expert witness immunity is not available to a party who acts as an assessor or mediator in an entirely private capacity.’
      • ‘Yes, one of my staff attended the awards dinner in a private capacity.’
      • ‘In my view a councillor would not be undertaking activities in an official capacity if he attended a meeting solely in his private capacity.’
      • ‘Hong visited the North in a private capacity, but this is the first time for a senior official of a pro-Seoul organization to go there.’
      • ‘He has yet to announce whether he will go in a private capacity, but his aides have hinted he probably will not do so.’
      • ‘Mayors and top provincial officials from China have visited Taiwan in the past, but they did so in a private capacity.’
      • ‘Russell maintained that his private affairs had nothing to do with the performance of his professional duties.’
      unofficial, personal, non-official, non-public
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  • 3(of a service or industry) provided or owned by an individual or an independent, commercial company rather than the state.

    ‘this research was carried out by private industry’
    • ‘Still, private industry may yet take some cues, and then develop that beyond what the institute can do on its own.’
    • ‘You could even take the concept into private industry: Ramadan Inn has a ring to it.’
    • ‘It will roll out in the remaining private industries before the end of the year.’
    • ‘The Government is to tap private industry in an effort to build trade links and swap skills with the world's poorest countries.’
    • ‘Setthapol was nominated and elected by the more than 20 committee members who all belong to the private business sector.’
    • ‘So it turned to private industry to provide the extra manpower needed to implement the program.’
    • ‘Planned economic growth was accompanied by the socialization of agriculture and of private commerce and industry.’
    • ‘I came into politics from private industry; and the government could learn a lot about cutting costs.’
    • ‘She said the arrest involved only shares belonging to private shareholders but refused to elaborate.’
    • ‘But more business doctoral grads are entering private industry rather than academia.’
    • ‘The CFS feels that part of the problem lies with the transfer of the CSLP to a private service provider.’
    • ‘Pretty soon you'll have to pay royalties for your thoughts benevolently loaned to you by private industry.’
    • ‘The development would be in two stages and would consist of commercial, public and private services.’
    • ‘In fact this was nothing more than a way of deflecting criticism away from the state while at the same time providing profits for private industry.’
    • ‘Citizens are asking for the same level of service from government that they get from private industry.’
    • ‘But that case does not assist in deciding whether the private service provider is itself amenable to judicial review.’
    • ‘I do not see signs of significant sums coming from private industry.’
    • ‘Not to worry, Miller will sort out private industry, those economy wreckers and get us down to 5 cents a gallon for gas.’
    • ‘Key details of what proportion of costs will be met by the taxpayer and by private industry have yet to be finalised.’
    • ‘The problem is that some powerful lobby groups seem dead set against new technologies just because they are new, and promoted by private industry.’
    independent, non-state-controlled, non-state-run, privatized, denationalized, non-public, commercial, private-enterprise
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    1. 3.1(of education or medical treatment) conducted outside the state system and charging fees to those who make use of it.
      ‘private education’
      ‘if I could afford it I'd go private’
      • ‘Getting private treatment for infertility can be very expensive, and there is no guarantee it will be successful.’
      • ‘And Hewitt has not relented on diverting billions of pounds from NHS trusts to private treatment centres.’
      • ‘Here we take a look at nursery schools in the state and private education systems, as well as community projects run by other parents.’
      • ‘The problem is compounded by the ban on general practitioners giving private prescription to their NHS patients.’
      • ‘Yet if you were taken ill in the United States, for example, the cost of private medical treatment could be ruinous.’
      • ‘The patient was unable to afford the full cost of private treatment and was told that he would have to be denied the drug.’
      • ‘The dental hospital is the last resort for those are can't find a dentist to treat them on the NHS and cannot afford private treatment.’
      • ‘Should you stay in the public system or go private with your medical insurance?’
      • ‘Finally, he faced the embarrassment of being asked to pay for private treatment.’
      • ‘So in fact there is a choice for the very rich to jump the queue: Pay for treatment in the private US system.’
      • ‘NHS treatment is attractive to patients because the charges are lower than private treatment, sometimes significantly.’
      • ‘Both also have private practices and perform infertility treatment at the private Assuta Hospital and Herzliya Medical Centre.’
      • ‘Bupa and several other companies offer private medical healthcare and are worth considering.’
      • ‘This is all very well for those who can afford private treatment but millions of people can't.’
      • ‘Meanwhile the other part of their Party wants to change our NHS for a system of compulsory private medical insurance.’
      • ‘Hospitals, NHS or private, would charge insurers for their services.’
      • ‘It also gives some idea of the high cost of private medical treatment in this country.’
      • ‘I was at Harrow County grammar where I'd arrived two years earlier from a private prep school to be bullied because my accent was too posh.’
      • ‘Thank goodness we had a bit of money put by and were able to pay for private treatment.’
      • ‘Milburn also announced a major extension of private treatment within the NHS.’
    2. 3.2Relating to or denoting a transaction between individuals and not involving commercial organizations.
      ‘it was a private sale—no estate agent's commission’
      • ‘Indeed, it is hard to imagine voting not being a thoroughly private transaction.’
      • ‘It bans the private sale of all firearms, creates a Federal ballistics database, and much more.’
      • ‘Many of the females, purchased at a private sale in 1997 were shown by their new West of Ireland owners.’
      • ‘Since opening in March, the home has mostly relied on private donations from charitable organizations.’
      • ‘Just at obscenity, the same place where the line is drawn with regard to sales for private viewing?’
      • ‘If the sale is private they will be auctioned off separately.’
      • ‘Sligo was shocked by the last week's private sale of Lissedell House.’
      • ‘It has no right to look into a private transaction which was a matter between me as a lawyer and my client.’
      • ‘Would you allow a private, nonliterary organization to place its logo on the cover of one your books if you were in a similar situation as Mr. Franzen?’
      • ‘This seminal case ruled that an audit was an essentially private transaction between auditor and their client.’
      • ‘It's a private transaction between me and the landlord/ landlady/ shopowner.’
      • ‘Sale to a private investor is understood to be imminent.’
      • ‘I know of several private sales in which homeowners have paid hundreds of thousands for a scrap of land.’
      • ‘Many charters served simply to confirm previous charters, judgements or private transactions.’
      • ‘Last time you were here, you said the big mistake was making it a private sale and not going through a broker, right?’
      • ‘A Fender Stratocaster played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock is believed to have sold for much more but that was in a private sale.’
      • ‘However, consumers should be careful when entering into private sales agreements.’
      • ‘I was lucky because I had a nice old landlady who thought I was nice and she sold me the property as a private sale.’
      • ‘One of Northern Ireland's leading shipping companies has been sold in a private sale, it was announced today.’
      • ‘But private sales are not and buyers are left stranded if their newly-bought vehicle is not what they expected.’


  • 1The lowest rank in the army, below lance corporal or private first class.

    • ‘Carson sent another private to ask permission to leave their weapons with the Raiders and try to get to one of the submarines.’
    • ‘One of the key components of infusing warrior ethos and training core warrior tasks and drills is limiting the ratio of privates to drill sergeants.’
    • ‘As before, the Korean War recipients ranged from privates to lieutenant colonels, with nine army men and three Marines represented.’
    • ‘Of those sentenced to death, one was a former army private, one a former police commando and the third a serving army major.’
    • ‘Abroad, the death of an army private has been followed by the murder of five innocent civilians.’
    • ‘In fact, the Army private did get to see his father in uniform - and in action, though it was ever so brief.’
    • ‘Rumor has it that an Army Air Corps private died on the site where this building was constructed.’
    • ‘He later enlisted as a private in the Royal Tank Corps, before being transferred back to the RAF.’
    • ‘Kind of a weird topic to discuss over dinner, if you ask me, but I am a lowly private without rank or feelings.’
    • ‘It has 3000 soldiers, including privates, sergeants and officers.’
    • ‘He enlisted in the Army in 1980 and was first assigned as a young private as a supply clerk in Germany.’
    • ‘There is also a significant difference between an Army private from West Virginia and a deposed dictator.’
    • ‘At Fort Knox, the Armor Center trains troopers, tankers, and leaders from privates to colonels - over 20,000 a year, as a matter of fact.’
    • ‘It is essential to grow leaders from private or lieutenant to command sergeant major or general.’
    • ‘Even a third class pilot had more power than a private in the army.’
    • ‘And we have privates in the Army Reserve who have PhDs, as well as all of the medical providers here as part of our theater support command.’
    • ‘He was stopped outside the camp and told the private that the Colonel was expecting him.’
    • ‘It observes the privates and lance corporals of the army, as well as its generals and marshals.’
    • ‘He enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1900 and was commissioned a year later.’
    • ‘A military investigation found the soldiers responsible for wounding a female private.’
    private soldier, common soldier
    infantryman, foot soldier, trooper
    sapper, ranker
    gi, enlisted man
    tommy, squaddie, tommy atkins
    grunt, buck private
    swad, swaddy
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  • 2informal

    short for private parts
    • ‘I think I'd actually rather flash my privates than appear in public in creased clothing.’
    • ‘Obviously, naming our privates is a matter of personal taste.’
    • ‘Its front cover shows a naked man aggressively clutching his privates, while the inner sleeve has an array of expletives and sexual suggestions.’
    • ‘One day I am going to snap because of some animal suddenly rubbing my privates with its face.’
    • ‘‘Hey, gimme that,’ says the second kid protecting his privates.’
    • ‘Yup, there's actually thousands of mentally abnormal people out there flashing their privates and ‘performing provocative poses’.’
    • ‘That is like believing that if you flick the privates of a rabid pit-bull it won't attack you.’
    • ‘It's downright sneaky of them to hang out there with their privates exposed.’
    • ‘Men, keep your hands away from your privates when viewing this, ok?’
    • ‘The technician fumbles with my privates like it's no big deal.’


  • in private

    • With no one else present.

      ‘I've got to talk to you in private’
      • ‘The problem for those seeking clarity is that much of the direct policy lobbying takes place in private.’
      • ‘The special meeting was being held in private because of the commercial sensitivity of the project.’
      • ‘The GMC panel held much of the hearing in private, but ruled its decision could be made public.’
      • ‘When it comes to actually dealing with death and the dead, even in public, we do so in private.’
      • ‘Rome has an obsession with secrecy - a lot goes on in private but it need not.’
      • ‘The meeting is being held in private, with only creditors allowed to attend.’
      • ‘Most British ambassadors would have huffed and puffed in private, and said nothing in public.’
      • ‘There is even a coffee table and two armchairs if you want to chat with your girlfriend in private.’
      • ‘The judge was today hearing a bail application on Colin's behalf in private.’
      • ‘Yesterday, Manchester city council's executive met in private to agree the deal.’
      in secret, secretly, in secrecy, privately, behind closed doors, in camera, with no one else present
      in confidence, confidentially, between ourselves, off the record
      sub rosa
      entre nous, à huis clos
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Late Middle English (originally denoting a person not acting in an official capacity): from Latin privatus withdrawn from public life, a use of the past participle of privare bereave, deprive, from privus single, individual.