Definition of privilege in English:



  • 1A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group:

    ‘education is a right, not a privilege’
    [mass noun] ‘he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege’
    • ‘After all who among us has never taken advantage of any privileges in our workplace?’
    • ‘In Evans we have a woman who used her wealth and class privilege to great advantage in achieving her reform goals.’
    • ‘What we all can do, however, is think for ourselves and grant others the privilege of doing so too.’
    • ‘Why, then, should anyone grant them such a privilege?’
    • ‘The first premise is of course correct, that among the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States is certainly the right to marry.’
    • ‘The bill, piloted by acting Foreign Affairs Minister Danny Montano, is meant to grant certain privileges and immunities to the ACS.’
    • ‘But, the privilege granted to us must not be used as a cover for unethical practices, aimed at violating the spirit of democracy.’
    • ‘Isn't that what equality is supposed to be all about, where no class of citizen enjoys privileges and immunities not extended to all?’
    • ‘A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.’
    • ‘But claims that Maori are in some way advantaged or enjoy special privileges over other New Zealanders are simply false.’
    • ‘In earlier times, people from wealthy families enjoyed great privileges not available to working-class and poor people.’
    • ‘Why are they kawawa when the military, when the soldiers are given so many privileges not available to other sectors of the government?’
    • ‘Merely a matter of months into the 21st century, the Government feels we are old and mature enough to be granted special privileges.’
    • ‘Anonymity is a privilege seldom granted to sources by the respectable press, but ‘spokespeople’ get anonymity all the time.’
    • ‘On our shores, those in the stands are fans, whose blind devotion grants them the privilege of being entertained - if they are that lucky - for two hours on Saturday afternoons.’
    • ‘It was not enough that each of the 18 provinces retained certain privileges not granted to Baghdad.’
    • ‘For the donor I felt respect and gratitude, that she had granted us the privilege of viewing this most intimate of relationships in a way that I hope never to see again.’
    • ‘Lady Boothroyd stood by her refusal to grant the privileges when she was Speaker, saying she had been determined to ‘protect the rules of the House of Commons’.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, he explained he thought it was a benefit the country's Premier should be entitled to, and so had asked the Governor for the privilege and duly been granted it.’
    • ‘The privileges and immunities that proclaim their superior status have grown, not lessened, in democratic India.’
    advantage, right, benefit, prerogative, entitlement, birthright, due
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    1. 1.1 Something regarded as a special honour:
      ‘I had the privilege of giving the Sir George Brown memorial lecture’
      • ‘He said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading health reform, and that it was ‘a great honour and a privilege to be entrusted with this role’.’
      • ‘It has been an honour and a privilege to work for this great club and to have enjoyed a memorable relationship with such special fans.’
      • ‘She said it was an honour and a privilege to serve as president of the second oldest guild in Ireland and to be in office during the year when the guild celebrated its 90th anniversary.’
      • ‘It would be an honour and a privilege to meet him.’
      • ‘To command a new ship, and especially the first of class, I consider an immense privilege and honour.’
      • ‘‘It is a great honour and privilege to receive this award, especially in such a forum,’ he commented.’
      • ‘He added: ‘It's been a great privilege and honour to represent this particular branch of the armed forces.’’
      • ‘She wouldn't regularly have this job, for it was a privilege and honour, but Zarana had a friend who was government and rebelled against her father's wishes.’
      • ‘Replying to the good wishes, Mr. Breen told how it had been a privilege and honour to live in Waterford.’
      • ‘To be a leader in that force is an honour and a privilege.’
      • ‘It may be a rare privilege to do the honours in a marriage ceremony, but invitations to the USPGA aren't exactly distributed like confetti.’
      • ‘It would be a wonderful honour and a great privilege to manage Glasgow Rangers one day, but I don't look at it as being the be all and end all.’
      • ‘To play hurling was a real privilege and an honour, and to put on a club jersey, whether it be Ireland or London or to wear the colours of Kilkenny C.B.S. gave me a great feeling of pride.’
      • ‘He did, however, describe the awards haul as ‘a real privilege, a tremendous honour and a real achievement’.’
      • ‘It was a privilege to have that honour on a number of occasions down through the years since I first got to know him in the mid-1980s.’
      • ‘It's an immense privilege and honour to lead the council and I'm very proud of what has been achieved in the last three years.’
      • ‘It is a privilege and honour for me to lead such a flypast to celebrate Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee.’
      • ‘Still, Kochiites enjoyed the rare privilege of honouring the music maestro.’
      • ‘It used to be a privilege and an honour to be selected to play for your country, but top stars these days are far too full of self-importance.’
      • ‘Even though Ruth is in the infancy of her captaincy, she already realises that it is both a privilege and an honour to be Captain to such a dedicated and forward thinking group of members.’
      honour, pleasure, source of pleasure, source of pride, source of satisfaction
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    2. 1.2 (especially in a parliamentary context) the right to say or write something without the risk of incurring punishment or legal action for defamation:
      ‘he called on MPs not to abuse their privilege’
      [mass noun] ‘a breach of parliamentary privilege’
      • ‘They want to go into greater detail about how they can extend that right of parliamentary privilege to outside Parliament.’
      • ‘After consultations with the Speaker advice was given that blocking email or any other form of communication to MP's was a breach of parliamentary privilege.’
      • ‘Parliamentary privilege is an ancient, much misunderstood concept, which I won't go into here.’
      • ‘Not even the privilege of parliamentary participation is enough to appease those who wanted the presidency at whatever cost.’
      • ‘Moeketse reportedly admitted to a Sunday newspaper that he was selling his air tickets, given to him for free as a parliamentary privilege, to friends and their spouses.’
      • ‘Many journalists and organisations view free speech as the opportunity to loosen the shackles of defamation, contempt of court, parliamentary privilege and privacy.’
      • ‘Certainly in relation to the parliamentary privilege, I'm not taking that issue on.’
      • ‘Wouldn't this represent a breach of parliamentary privilege, compelling MPs to vote certain ways?’
      • ‘The MPs considered charging Large with breach of parliamentary privilege for his intervention - but ministers liked his tough approach and were keen to keep him.’
      • ‘Flawed evidence and the controversial use parliamentary privilege has finally forced the hand of the Prime Minister in demanding the Senator's resignation.’
      • ‘Although he withdrew his statement and apologised twice, the opposition want action to be taken against him for abuse of parliamentary privilege.’
      • ‘MPs should not abuse Parliamentary privilege by lying to the public.’
      • ‘When it comes to parliamentary privilege, are we striking the appropriate balance between freedom of speech and the right to protect your reputation?’
      • ‘That's right, vast swabs of the offending speech are reproduced under the cover of the Parliamentary privilege that had been so abused.’
      • ‘Also on Thursday, three junior diplomats at Iraqi Embassy in Bangkok left Thailand after being told on Tuesday that their diplomatic privileges and immunities were being revoked.’
      • ‘Rather an abuse of parliamentary privilege to achieve a cheap and shoddy pay back for his mates.’
      • ‘Yet some courtroom equivalent of parliamentary privilege allows a man who has never met me and who knows nothing of me to make spurious allegations about me.’
      • ‘This was despite requests from Churchill and the British Royal Family that the king be granted greater diplomatic privileges.’
      • ‘The committee, in its report, found the letter to be insulting but it did not constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege or contempt of Parliament.’
      • ‘This is not to say that there are not PNM MPs who sometimes abuse parliamentary privilege.’
      • ‘I think that if the member wants to name somebody under the parliamentary privilege that he has, he should go ahead.’
      • ‘MPs should be held to account if they unfairly abuse parliamentary privilege and hurt innocent Kiwi families.’
    3. 1.3 The right of a lawyer or official to refuse to divulge confidential information.
      • ‘If the lawyer wants to release the material and the client doesn't, the client can then hire another lawyer to assert the privilege.’
      • ‘And the notion that this is some sort of lawless act on her part, as if no one has ever received what the lawyers call a privilege, a right not to reveal sources, it just isn't so.’
      • ‘The court also said that the reporter had a right to assert the privilege for nonconfidential information.’
      • ‘First, solicitor-client privilege applies only to confidential communications between the client and his solicitor.’
      • ‘The 1978 law only recognizes the enumerated privileges set forth in the Freedom Of Information Act.’
      • ‘The question before us does not depend on the privileges of a solicitor.’
      • ‘Z refused to provide information to the prosecutors citing a privilege against giving testimony against one's spouse.’
      • ‘This notion that it is the lawyer's privilege, Mr Sheahan, is pernicious, wrong.’
      • ‘Usually, the attorney-client privilege protects private lawyers from being forced to reveal what their clients told them.’
      • ‘In 1923, for instance, a member of the Shanghai Bar accused an accountant of usurping the privilege of lawyers by acting as a witness to contracts.’
    4. 1.4historical A grant to an individual, corporation, or place of special rights or immunities, especially in the form of a franchise or monopoly.
      • ‘Like rent, interest is the offspring of state-supported monopoly privilege, not of liberty or community.’
      • ‘The maximization of exports was to be stimulated by subsidies, tax incentives, and monopoly privileges granted by the Crown to export enterprises.’
      • ‘Hummell explains how it is that government gained its monopoly privileges in the first place and how the will to be free is essential in undermining this monopoly.’
      • ‘The only effective restriction on competition is the legal provision of monopoly privileges that can only be provided by governments.’
      immunity, exemption, dispensation
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  • 1 Grant a privilege or privileges to:

    ‘English inheritance law privileged the eldest son’
    • ‘This focus seems to contradict the book's goal of including Madagascar's diverse peoples without privileging any single group.’
    • ‘The law does not privilege the interests of men above those of women.’
    • ‘One of the marks of the insanity of libertarian thinking is that it cannot, as this reader could not, distinguish between privileging the good of the family and ‘totalitarianism’.’
    • ‘The third is that government may not enact preferences for any one faith, privileging it above the others to, for example, create an official state religion.’
    • ‘Believing as I do, if I supported nationalised health care I would be privileging the needs of those who are undertreated now, over those who have diseases that we could cure in the future.’
    • ‘It's just that by privileging the near-term practical outcome over the purity of the methodology, they are offering image over substance, much as the 60's themselves did.’
    • ‘So what's at stake in privileging cinema and 1936 as your two origin points in The Language of New Media?’
    • ‘What is required is legislative change to the Family Law Act to require judges to make decisions privileging the child's safety ahead of all other considerations.’
    • ‘At the time, we were told that BBC bosses could no longer justify privileging just Asian and African-Caribbean community voices.’
    • ‘These dovetailed with the devolution of a familial model based on the territorial prince and a rule of law privileging the eldest son.’
    • ‘This amounts to privileging a particular aspect of cultural unity over others, one that gives precedence to the elements of diversity of the same gathering of peoples.’
    • ‘For more extreme factions of unionism and republicanism, conflict over territory constitutes a war of attrition, privileging a winner-takes-all agenda over political dialogue.’
    • ‘It's the same for all those who, so far, have not been privileged with encounters of my son's kind.’
    • ‘He suggests we read an article in which the case is made for privileging human rights over sovereignty.’
    • ‘Far from merely privileging a phenomenology intent on capturing the object's fleeting and independent existence, these poems conceive the object as the intersection of natural and social relations, which give it its identity.’
    • ‘The two are at one in privileging democratic change over narrow national interest: the idealism of the centre leftist meets that of the right wing liberals.’
    • ‘By privileging shiny things over everything else, we obscure the diversity of experience that defines humankind.’
    • ‘Under this law, anyone who protests inside a church can be prosecuted on a charge far more serious than breach of the peace; it is an odd, arcane law, privileging the church, and should no doubt be abolished.’
    • ‘‘Literature’ and ‘genre’ are not hard categories, or even opposed categories - and as a lover of genre I am not privileging one above the other.’
    • ‘I'd welcome examples to add to my collection of courts privileging language in the Daubert trilogy over the text of new Rule 702.’
    1. 1.1 Exempt (someone) from a liability or obligation to which others are subject:
      ‘barristers are privileged from arrest going to, coming from, and abiding in court’
      • ‘In some, but not all, forms of legal process, witnesses and parties attending and returning from court are privileged from arrest.’
      protected, exempt, excepted
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Middle English: via Old French from Latin privilegium bill or law affecting an individual, from privus private + lex, leg- law.