Meaning of “private” in the English Dictionary

"private" in English

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uk /ˈpraɪ.vət/ us /ˈpraɪ.vət/

private adjective (PERSONAL)

B1 only for one person or group and not for everyone:

She has a small office that is used for private discussions.
I caught him looking through my private papers.
The sign on the gate said "Private Property - No Trespassing!"

Private activities involve personal matters or relationships and are not related to your work:

Apparently in interviews he refuses to talk about his private life.

B1 Private thoughts and opinions are secret and not discussed with other people:

Although I support the project in public, my private opinion is that it will fail.
This is a private matter.

A private place is quiet and has no other people to see or hear you:

Is there somewhere private where we can talk?

A private person does not like to talk about their personal feelings and thoughts:

She's a very private person.
in private

B2 If you talk to someone or do something in private, you do it without other people being present:

Jamie wants to speak to me in private.

More examples

privatenoun [ C ]

uk /ˈpraɪ.vət/ us /ˈpraɪ.vət/

also Private a soldier of the lowest rank in an army:

Private Murray/Sam Murray

(Definition of “private” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"private" in American English

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us /ˈprɑɪ·vɪt/

private adjective (PERSONAL)

for the use of or belonging to one particular person or group only, or not shared or available to other people:

The sign on the gate said "Private Property – Keep Out."
Let’s go somewhere private so we can talk freely.
in private

If you do something in private, you do it without other people present:

I asked if I could talk to her in private.

private adjective (INDEPENDENT)

[ not gradable ] belonging to or managed by a person or independent company rather than the government:

The governor visited Ireland as a private citizen (= not as an official).

privatenoun [ C ]

us /ˈprɑɪ·vɪt/

private noun [ C ] (RANK)

a person in the military of the lowest rank, below a corporal

(Definition of “private” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"private" in Business English

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uk /ˈpraɪvɪt/ us

used to describe a company with shares that are not traded on a stock market:

EM.TV is a private family-owned company.

ECONOMICS owned or controlled by one person or company, rather than by a government:

Much of the funding for this type of investment comes from public, rather than private, sources.
We need to review public and private interests in order to balance them carefully.
The center has about 85 employees supported by private money from grants and donations.
private health insurance
private agencies/institutions/hospitals

ECONOMICS private employees, investors, etc. act for themselves, rather than for a government or company:

COMMERCE, FINANCE only offered to particular people or organizations to buy and not offered to the public:

The property was sold by private treaty.
a private sale

intended only for the use of one person or group of people:

a private jet
a private club

MEETINGS involving only a small group of people and kept secret:

Senior group executives are reported to be in private talks regarding a possible merger.

connected with your personal life, rather than your job:

Employees are asked to keep private emails/phone calls to a minimum.
go private

FINANCE, STOCK MARKET if a company whose shares are traded on a stock market goes private, the owners buy the shares back from other shareholders in order to take control of the company themselves:

The Canadian utility company is well on its way to going private through a $22 billion management-led buyout.

ECONOMICS, GOVERNMENT if an organization that is owned by the government goes private, it is sold to investors:

The satellite company was bought by its current owners for $3.1 billion in cash after going private and shedding its intergovernmental ownership.

UK to pay for your own medical treatment, rather than using treatment provided by the National Health Service:

People who cannot find an NHS dentist are already going private and insurers are keen to fill in gaps in their finances.
in private

MEETINGS something that is done in private is done secretly and only involves a small group of people:

Negotiations are underway in private.
in private hands

ECONOMICS, GOVERNMENT owned or controlled by one person or company, rather than by a government:

The transaction would put control of a key service in private hands.

owned by one person, rather than by an organization:

Two original copies of the manuscript are still in private hands.
take sth private

FINANCE, STOCK MARKET to take control of a company or organization whose shares are traded on a stock market by buying the shares back from other shareholders:

Two of the world's richest men combined to take the upmarket hotel chain private in a $1.95bn deal.

(Definition of “private” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)