use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

pri·vate (prīvĭt)
Share:
adj.
1.
a. Secluded from the sight, presence, or intrusion of others: a private hideaway.
b. Designed or intended for one's exclusive use: a private room.
2.
a. Of or confined to the individual; personal: a private joke; private opinions.
b. Undertaken on an individual basis: private studies; private research.
c. Of, relating to, or receiving special hospital services and privileges: a private patient.
3. Not available for public use, control, or participation: a private club; a private party.
4.
a. Belonging to a particular person or persons, as opposed to the public or the government: private property.
b. Of, relating to, or derived from nongovernment sources: private funding.
c. Conducted and supported primarily by individuals or groups not affiliated with governmental agencies or corporations: a private college; a private sanatorium.
d. Enrolled in or attending a private school: a private student.
5. Capitalized in shares of stock that are held by a relatively small number of owners and are not traded on the open market: a private company; a company that went private; took a company private.
6. Not holding an official or public position: a private citizen.
7.
a. Not for public knowledge or disclosure; secret: private papers; a private communication.
b. Not appropriate for use or display in public; intimate: private behavior; a private tragedy.
c. Placing a high value on personal privacy: a private person.
n.
1.
a. A noncommissioned rank in the US Army or Marine Corps that is below private first class.
b. One who holds this rank or a similar rank in a military organization.
2. privates Private parts. Often used with the.
Idioms:
go private
To take a publicly owned company into private ownership, as by a leveraged buyout.
in private
Not in public; secretly or confidentially.

[Middle English privat, from Latin prīvātus, not in public life, past participle of prīvāre, to release, deprive, from prīvus, single, alone; see per1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

private·ly adv.
private·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.