Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. synonym: right.
  • noun Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others.
  • noun The principle of granting and maintaining a special right or immunity.
  • noun Protection from being forced to disclose confidential communications in certain relationships, as between attorney and client, physician and patient, or priest and confessor.
  • noun Protection from being sued for libel or slander for making otherwise actionable statements in a context or forum where open and candid expression is deemed desirable for reasons of public policy.
  • noun An option to buy or sell a stock, including put, call, spread, and straddle.
  • transitive verb To grant a privilege to.
  • transitive verb To free or exempt.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To grant some privilege to; bestow some particular right or exemption on: invest with a peculiar right or immunity; exempt from censure or danger: as, to privilege diplomatic representatives from arrest; the privileged classes.
  • To exempt in any way; free: with from.
  • To authorize; license.
  • noun In the High Peak, Derbyshire, the land on which a house stands, including the garden, even if the garden is on the other side of the road.
  • noun A writ issued to apprehend a person in a privileged place.
  • noun An ordinance in favor of an individual.
  • noun A right, immunity, benefit, or advantage enjoyed by a person or body of persons beyond the common advantages of other individuals; the enjoyment of some desirable right, or an exemption from some evil or burden; a private or personal favor enjoyed; a peculiar advantage.
  • noun Specifically — In the Roman Catholic Church, an exemption or license granted by the Pope. It differs from a dispensation and from a grace in that it never refers to a single act, but presupposes and legalizes many acts done in pursuance of it, and confers on its possessor immunity in regard to every act so privileged.
  • noun Special immunity or advantage granted to persons in authority or in office, as the freedom of speech, freedom from arrest, etc., enjoyed by members of Parliament or of Congress. Compare breach of privilege, below.
  • noun An advantage yielded; superiority.
  • noun In law: A special and exclusive right conferred by law on particular persons or classes of persons, and ordinarily in derogation of the common right.
  • noun The law, rule, or grant conferring such a right.
  • noun In the civil law, a lien or priority of right of payment, such as the artisans' privilege, corresponding to the common-law lien of a bailee or the lien under mechanics' lien-laws, carriers' privilege, inn-keepers' privilege, etc.
  • noun In some of the United States, the right of a licensee in a vocation which is forbidden except to licensees.
  • noun In modern times (since all have become generally equal before the law), one of the more sacred and vital rights common to all citizens: as, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; the privileges of a citizen of the United States.
  • noun A speculative contract covering a “put” or a “call,” or both a put and a call (that is, a “straddle”). See call, n., 15, put, n., 6, and straddle, n.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To grant some particular right or exemption to; to invest with a peculiar right or immunity; to authorize.
  • transitive verb To bring or put into a condition of privilege or exemption from evil or danger; to exempt; to deliver.
  • noun A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; a right or immunity not enjoyed by others or by all; special enjoyment of a good, or exemption from an evil or burden; a prerogative; advantage; franchise.
  • noun (Stockbroker's Cant) See Call, Put, Spread, etc.
  • noun See under Breach.
  • noun (Parliamentary practice) a question which concerns the security of a member of a legislative body in his special privileges as such.
  • noun [ U. S.] the advantage of having machinery driven by a stream, or a place affording such advantage.
  • noun (Law) a writ to deliver a privileged person from custody when arrested in a civil suit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; a right or immunity not enjoyed by others or by all; special enjoyment of a good, or exemption from an evil or burden; a prerogative; advantage; franchise; preferential treatment.
  • noun The status or existence of such benefit or advantage.
  • noun law A common law doctrine that protects certain communications from being used as evidence in court.
  • verb archaic To grant some particular right or exemption to; to invest with a peculiar right or immunity; to authorize; as, to privilege representatives from arrest.
  • verb archaic To bring or put into a condition of privilege or exemption from evil or danger; to exempt; to deliver.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right)
  • verb bestow a privilege upon
  • noun (law) the right to refuse to divulge information obtained in a confidential relationship
  • noun a special advantage or immunity or benefit not enjoyed by all

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin prīvilēgium, a law affecting one person : prīvus, single, alone; see per in Indo-European roots + lēx, lēg-, law; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French privilege, from Latin privilegium ("an ordinance or law against or in favor of an individual"), from privus ("private") + lēx, legis ("law").

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Examples

  • V. iii.129 (478,1) Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,/My oath, and my profession] The _privilege_ of this _oath_ means the privilege gained by taking the oath administered in the regular initiation of a knight professed.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies

  • Nevertheless, as this subject matter of a concordat is not necessarily homogeneous (the unity of a concordat being merely extrinsic and accidental) it follows that although the term privilege may be applied to a concordat taken as a whole, it cannot necessarily be used of every clause in the same.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 4: Clandestinity-Diocesan Chancery

  • We appreciate that this privilege has been afforded Nurse Chaplin for most of her career, through her years of invaluable service, and that the loss of privilege is often perceived as an infringement of rights, but her reaction (and yours) is actually quite revealing as to why this is a privilege rather than a right, why her demand for exemption is of dubious merit.

    An Open Letter to the Usual Suspects

  • We appreciate that this privilege has been afforded Nurse Chaplin for most of her career, through her years of invaluable service, and that the loss of privilege is often perceived as an infringement of rights, but her reaction (and yours) is actually quite revealing as to why this is a privilege rather than a right, why her demand for exemption is of dubious merit.

    Archive 2010-03-01

  • Anything beyond that is what we refer to as a privilege, and one that can be taken away by the men who pay the bills any time.

    Advertisers Should Not Have Cancelled Ads in Glenn Beck's Program - Charlie Warner - MediaBizBloggers

  • The Bush administration's arguably problematic and broad use of the privilege is adeptly summed up by Mr. Lanman as follows:

    Constitutional Issues

  • Another privilege is the use of the Library of Congress.

    Think Progress » Rep. Doolittle Just Wants The Same Benefits Every American Doesn’t Have

  • The Bush administration's arguably problematic and broad use of the privilege is adeptly summed up by Mr. Lanman as follows:

    Civil Rights

  • Congress, however, has never passed a federal shield law, and the privilege is at its weakest in a grand-jury setting — because that is precisely the setting in which the Court rejected it in Branzburg.

    Leaks and the Law

  • Congress, however, has never passed a federal shield law, and the privilege is at its weakest in a grand-jury setting — because that is precisely the setting in which the Court rejected it in Branzburg.

    Leaks and the Law

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