Etymology: Middle English privat, from Anglo-French, from Latin privatus, from past participle of privare to deprive, release, from privus private, individual; probably akin to Latin pro for, in front of — more at for
Date: 14th century
a. intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class <a private park> b. belonging to or concerning an individual person, company, or interest <a private house> c. (1) restricted to the individual or arising independently of others <private opinion> (2) carried on by the individual independently of the usual institutions <private study> <a doctor in private practice>; also being educated by independent study or a tutor or in a private school <private students> d. not general in effect <a private statute> e. of, relating to, or receiving hospital service in which the patient has more privileges than a semiprivate or ward patient 2. a. (1) not holding public office or employment <a private citizen> (2) not related to one's official position ; personal <private correspondence> b. being a private <a private soldier> 3. a. withdrawn from company or observation ; sequestered <a private retreat> b. not known or intended to be known publicly ; secret <a private conversation> c. preferring to keep personal affairs to oneself ; valuing privacy highly d. unsuitable for public use or display 4. not having shares that can be freely traded on the open market <a private company> • privately adverb • privateness noun II. noun Date: 15th century 1. archaic one not in public office 2. obsolete privacy 3. plural private parts 4. a. a person of low rank in various organizations (as a police or fire department) b. an enlisted man of the lowest rank in the marine corps or of one of the two lowest ranks in the army
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.