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  1. That of which the essence is the absence of something. Blackness and darkness are privatives. – Bacon.
  2. In grammar, a prefix to a word which changes its signification and gives it a contrary sense, as α, in Greek; αδικος, unjust; α and δικη; un and in in English, as unwise, inhuman. The word may also be applied to suffixes, as less in harmless.


  1. By the absence of something.
  2. Negatively. The duty of the new covenant is set down first privatively. [Unusual.] – Hammond.


Notation of the absence of something. [Little used.]


A plant of the genus Ligustrum. The evergreen privet is of the genus Rhamnus. Mock privet is of the genes Phillyrea. – Fam. of Plants.

PRIV'I-LEGE, n. [Fr. from L. privilegium; privus, separate, private, and lex, law; originally a private law, some public act that regarded an individual.]

  1. A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company or society, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. A privilege may be a particular right granted by law or held by custom, or it may be an exemption from some burden to which others are subject. The nobles of Great Britain have the privilege of being triable by their peers only. Members of parliament and of our legislatures have the privilege of exemption from arrests in certain cases. The powers of a banking company are privileges granted by the legislature. He pleads the legal privilege of the Roman. – Kettlewell. The privilege of birthright was a double portion. – Locke.
  2. Any peculiar benefit or advantage, right or immunity, not common to others of the human race. Thus we speak of national privileges, and civil and political privileges, which we enjoy above other nations. We have ecclesiastical and religious privileges secured to us by our constitutions of government. Personal privileges are attached to the person; as those of embassadors, peers, members of legislatures, &c. Real privileges are attached to place; as, the privileges of the king's palace in England.
  3. Advantage; favor; benefit. A nation despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral. – Federalist, Hamilton. Writ of privilege, is a writ to deliver a privileged person from custody when arrested in a civil suit. – Blackstone. Water privilege, the advantage of a waterfall in streams sufficient to raise water for driving wheels. [Privilege is here abusively used for advantage; it ought not to be used in a physical sense.]


  1. To grant some particular right or exemption to; to invest with a peculiar right or immunity; as, to privilege representatives from arrest; to privilege the officers and students of a college from military duty.
  2. To exempt from censure or danger. This place doth privilege me. – Daniel.


Invested with a privilege; enjoying a peculiar right or immunity. The clergy in Great Britain were formerly a privileged body of men. No person is privileged from arrest for indictable crimes.


Investing with a peculiar right or immunity.

PRIV'I-LY, adv. [from privy.]

Privately; secretly. False teachers among you, who will privily bring in damnable heresies. – 2 Pet. ii.

PRIV'I-TY, n. [Fr. privauté. See Private and Privy.]

  1. Privacy; secrecy; confidence. I will to you, in privity, discover the drift of my purpose. [Little used.] – Spenser.
  2. Private knowledge; joint knowledge with another of a private concern, which is often supposed to imply consent or concurrence. All the doors were laid open for his departure, not without the privity of the prince of Orange. – Swift. But it is usual to say, “a thing is done with his privity and consent;” in which phrase, privity signifies merely private knowledge.
  3. Privities, in the plural, secret parts; the parts which modesty requires to be concealed.

PRIV'Y, a. [Fr. privé; L. privus. See Private.]

  1. Private; pertaining to some person exclusively; assigned to private uses; not public; as, the privy purse; the privy coffer of a king. – Blackstone.
  2. Secret; clandestine; not open or public; as, a privy attempt to kill one.
  3. Private; appropriated to retirement; not shown; not open for the admission of company; as, a privy chamber. – Ezek. xxi.
  4. Privately knowing; admitted to the participation of knowledge with another of a secret transaction. He would rather lose half of his kingdom than be privy to such a secret. – Swift. Myself am one made privy to the plot. – Shak. His wife also being privy to it. – Acts v.
  5. Admitted to secrets of state. The privy council of a king consists of a number of distinguished persons selected by him to advise him in the administration of the government. Blackstone. A privy verdict, is one given to the judge out of court, which is of no force unless afterward affirmed by a public verdict in court. – Blackstone.

PRIV'Y, n.

  1. In law, a partaker; a person having an interest in any action or thing; as, a privy in blood. Privies are of four kinds; privies in blood, as the heir to his father; privies in representation, as, executors and administrators to the deceased; privies in estate, as he in reversion and he in remainder; donor and donee; lessor and lessee; privy in tenure, as the lord in escheat. – Encyc.
  2. A necessary house. Privy chamber, in Great Britain, the private apartment in a royal residence or mansion. Gentlemen of the privy chamber are servants of the king, who are to wait and attend on him and the queen at court, in their diversions, &c. They are forty-eight in number, under the lord chamberlain. – Encyc.


A member of the privy council. Privy-counselors are made by the king's nomination without patent or grant. – Blackstone.


  1. In England, the seal which the king uses previously in grants, &c. which are to pass the great seal, or which he uses in matters of subordinate consequence, which do not require the great seal.
  2. Privy-seal, is used elliptically for the principal secretary of state, or person intrusted with the privy-seal. The king's sign manual is the warrant to the privy-seal, who makes out a writ or warrant thereon to the chancery. The sign manual is the warrant to the privy-seal, and the privy-seal is the warrant to the great seal. Blackstone.

PRIZE, n. [Fr. prise, from pris, taken; Sp. and Port. presa; G. preis; D. prys; Dan. priis; Sw. pris. See Praise and Price. Literally, that which is taken; hence,]

  1. That which is taken from an enemy in war; any species of goods or property seized by force as spoil or plunder; or that which is taken in combat, particularly a ship. A privateer takes an enemy's ship as a prize. They make prize of all the property of the enemy.
  2. That which is taken from another; that which is deemed a valuable acquisition. Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes, / Soon to obtain and long possess the prize. – Pope.
  3. That which is obtained or offered as the reward of contest. I will never wrestle for prize. – Shak. I fought and conquer'd, yet have lost the prize. – Dryden.
  4. The reward gained by any performance. – Dryden.
  5. In colloquial language, any valuable thing gained.
  6. The money drawn by a lottery ticket; opposed to blank.

PRIZE, v.t.1

To raise with a lever. [See Pry.]

PRIZE, v.t.2 [Fr. priser, from prix, price, L. pretium; It. apprezzare; Fr. apprecier. English analogy requires that the compound should be conformed to the orthography of this word, and written apprize.]

  1. To set or estimate the value of; to rate; as, to prize the goods specified in an invoice. Life I prize not a straw. – Shak.
  2. To value highly; to estimate to be of great worth; to esteem. I prize your person, but your crown disdain. – Dryden.

PRIZ'ED, pp.

Rated; valued; esteemed.


One that fights publicly for a reward. – Pope.


One that estimates or sets the value of a thing. – Shak.

PRIZ'ING, ppr.

Rating; valuing; esteeming.

PRO, prep.

A Latin and Greek preposition, signifying for, before, forth, is probably contracted from prod, coinciding with It. proda, a prow, prode, brave; having the primary sense of moving forward. See Prodigal. In the phrase, pro and con, that is, pro and contra, it answers to the English for; for and against. – Prior. In composition, pro denotes fore, forth, forward.

PRO'A, n.

Flying proa, a vessel used in the South Seas, with the head and stern exactly alike, but with the sides differently formed. That which is intended for the lee side is flat, the other rounding. To prevent oversetting, the vessel is furnished with a frame extended from the windward side, called an out-rigger. – Encyc.


In theology and ethics, the doctrine that admits it to be lawful to follow probable opinions in doubtful points; a species of Jesuitism.

PROB-A-BIL'I-TY, n. [Fr. probabilité; L. probabilitas. See Probable.]

  1. Likelihood; appearance of truth; that state of a case or question of fact which results from superior evidence or preponderation of argument on one side, inclining the mind to receive it as the truth, but leaving some room for doubt. It therefore falls short of moral certainty, but produces what is called opinion. Probability is the appearance of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, by the intervention of proofs whose connection is not constant, but appears for the most part to be so. – Locke. Demonstration produces science or certain knowledge; proof produces belief, and probability opinion. – Encyc.
  2. Any thing that has the appearance of reality or truth. In this sense, the word admits of the plural number. The whole life of man is a perpetual comparison of evidence and balancing of probabilities. – Buckminster.