Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The morning after his arrival, Artaphernes had a private audience with his royal master.

In the private car the little party was beginning its own journey Eastward.

Mr. Davis, may I ask the favor of a few minutes' conversation with you in private?

Fouts, with a slip of paper in his hand, beckoned him from the door of his private office.

And noo, Captain Smith, let me say a word in your private ear.

You are recommended, Miss, to the practice of your private devotions.

He gives his ambassador a sum on which a private gentleman can live, and no more.

But can you, my dear Miss Howe, condescend to carry on a private correspondence with me?

Sarah agreed briskly, and she hurried on toward the private office.

Turning his head, he saw it was James Danby, an owner, sitting in his private box.


late 14c., "pertaining or belonging to oneself, not shared, individual; not open to the public;" of a religious rule, "not shared by Christians generally, distinctive; from Latin privatus "set apart, belonging to oneself (not to the state), peculiar, personal," used in contrast to publicus, communis; past participle of privare "to separate, deprive," from privus "one's own, individual," from PIE *prei-wo-, from PIE *prai-, *prei-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).

Old English in this sense had syndrig. Private grew popular 17c. as an alternative to common (adj.), which had overtones of condescention. Of persons, "not holding public office," recorded from early 15c. In private "privily" is from 1580s. Related: Privately. Private school is from 1650s. Private parts "the pudenda" is from 1785. Private enterprise first recorded 1797; private property by 1680s; private sector is from 1948. Private eye "private detective" is recorded from 1938, American English.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.