use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

guide to the dictionary

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. Annual surveys have gauged 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

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

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

scroll-icon

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY BLOG

The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.

100-words-icon

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

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

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

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 another 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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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.

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.