AskDefine | Define privilege

Dictionary Definition



1 a special advantage or immunity or benefit not enjoyed by all
2 a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right); "suffrage was the prerogative of white adult males" [syn: prerogative, perquisite, exclusive right]
3 (law) the right to refuse to divulge information obtained in a confidential relationship v : bestow a privilege upon [syn: favor, favour]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • IPA: /ˈpɹɪvəlɛdʒ/ (Canadian) or /ˈpɹɪv(ə)lɪdʒ/ (RP) or /ˈpɹɪv(ə)lədʒ/


From privilège, from privilegium an ordinance or law against or in favor of an individual; privus private + lex, legis, law.


  1. 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.
  2. a common law doctrine that protects certain communications from being used as evidence in court.


A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
  • Arabic:
  • Chinese: 特权 (tèquán)
  • Croatian: privilegija, privilegij
  • Dutch: voorrecht
  • Finnish: etuoikeus, erioikeus
  • French: privilège
  • German: Privileg
  • Hungarian: előny
  • Italian: privilegio
  • Japanese: 特権 (とっけん, tokken)
  • Korean: 특권 (teukgwon)
  • Portuguese: privilégio
  • Russian: привилегия (privilégija)
  • Spanish: privilegio
  • Swedish: privilegium
a common law doctrine that protects certain communications from being used as evidence in court


  1. To grant some particular right or exemption to; to invest with a peculiar right or immunity; to authorize; as, to privilege representatives from arrest.
  2. To bring or put into a condition of privilege or exemption from evil or danger; to exempt; to deliver.


to grant some particular right or exemption to
  • German: privilegieren
to bring or put into a condition of privilege or exemption from evil or danger
  • German: privilegieren

Extensive Definition

A privilege—etymologically "private law" or law relating to a specific individual—is a special entitlement or immunity granted by a government or other authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. A privilege can be revoked in some cases. In modern democracies, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth. By contrast, a right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings from birth. Miscellaneous privileges, e.g. the old common law privilege to title deeds, may still exist, though of little relevance today.
In a broader sense, 'privilege' can refer to special powers or 'de facto' immunities held as a consequence of political power or wealth. Privilege of this sort may be transmitted by birth into a privileged class or achieved through individual actions. Compare elite.
One of the objectives of the French Revolution was the abolition of privilege. This meant the removal of separate laws for different social classes (nobility, clergy and ordinary people), instead subjecting everyone to the same common law. Privileges were abolished by the National Constituent Assembly on August 4, 1789.

In Popular Culture


privilege in Aragonese: Pribilechio
privilege in Danish: Privilegium
privilege in German: Privileg
privilege in Spanish: Privilegio
privilege in Italian: Privilegio
privilege in Dutch: Privilege
privilege in Norwegian: Privilegium
privilege in Polish: Przywilej
privilege in Russian: Привилегия
privilege in Simple English: Privilege
privilege in Swedish: Privilegium

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1