private ( privates plural )
1 adj Private industries and services are owned or controlled by an individual person or a commercial company, rather than by the state or an official organization. (BUSINESS) usu ADJ n
Bupa runs private hospitals in Britain..., Brazil says its constitution forbids the private ownership of energy assets.
privately adv ADV with v
No other European country had so few privately owned businesses..., She was privately educated at schools in Ireland and Paris.
2 adj Private individuals are acting only for themselves, and are not representing any group, company, or organization.
...the law's insistence that private citizens are not permitted to have weapons..., The King was on a private visit to enable him to pray at the tombs of his ancestors...
3 adj Your private things belong only to you, or may only be used by you.
usu ADJ n
There are 76 individually furnished bedrooms, all with private bathrooms...
4 adj Private places or gatherings may be attended only by a particular group of people, rather than by the general public.
usu ADJ n (Antonym: public)
673 private golf clubs took part in a recent study..., The door is marked `Private'...
5 adj Private meetings, discussions, and other activities involve only a small number of people, and very little information about them is given to other people.
usu ADJ n
Don't bug private conversations, and don't buy papers that reprint them.
privately adv usu ADV with cl, also ADV after v
Few senior figures have issued any public statements but privately the resignation's been welcomed...
6 adj Your privatelife is that part of your life that is concerned with your personal relationships and activities, rather than with your work or business.
usu ADJ n
I've always kept my private and professional life separate...
7 adj Your private thoughts or feelings are ones that you do not talk about to other people.
usu ADJ n
We all felt as if we were intruding on his private grief.
privately adv ADV with cl, ADV with v
Privately, she worries about whether she's really good enough...
8 adj You can use private to describe situations or activities that are understood only by the people involved in them, and not by anyone else.
Chinese waiters stood in a cluster, sharing a private joke...
9 adj If you describe a place as private, or as somewhere where you can be private, you mean that it is a quiet place and you can be alone there without being disturbed.
It was the only reasonably private place they could find.
10 adj If you describe someone as a private person, you mean that they are very quiet by nature and do not reveal their thoughts and feelings to other people.
usu ADJ n
Gould was an intensely private individual.
11 adj You can use private to describe lessons that are not part of ordinary school activity, and which are given by a teacher to an individual pupil or a small group, usually in return for payment.
usu ADJ n
Martial arts: Private lessons: £8 per hour., ...Donald Tovey, who took her as his private pupil for the piano.
12 n-count; n-title A private is a soldier of the lowest rank in an army or the marines.
14 If you do something in private, you do it without other people being present, often because it is something that you want to keep secret.
in private phrase usu PHR after v Some of what we're talking about might better be discussed in private.
private detective ( private detectives plural ) A private detective is someone who you can pay to find missing people or do other kinds of investigation for you. n-count
Private enterprise is industry and business which is owned by individual people or commercial companies, and not by the government or an official organization. (BUSINESS) n-uncount
...the government's plans to sell state companies to private enterprise.
private eye ( private eyes plural ) You can refer to a private detective as a private eye, especially when he or she is a character in a film or story.
private investigator ( private investigators plural ) A private investigator is the same as a private detective. n-count
Private Member's Bill ( Private Members' Bills plural ) In Britain, a Private Member's Bill is a law that is proposed by a Member of Parliament acting as an individual rather than as a member of his or her political party. n-count
Your private parts are your genitals.
INFORMAL n-plural usu poss N
private school ( private schools plural ) A private school is a school which is not supported financially by the government and which parents have to pay for their children to go to. n-var
(Antonym: state school)
He attended Eton, the most exclusive private school in Britain.
The private sector is the part of a country's economy which consists of industries and commercial companies that are not owned or controlled by the government. (BUSINESS) n-sing the N, N n (Antonym: public sector)
...small firms in the private sector.
private soldier ( private soldiers plural ) A private soldier is a soldier of the lowest rank in an army or the marines.