The Meaning of Privy: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever wondered about the definition of privy? This article will provide you with all of the info you need on the word privy, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word privy mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, Your Dictionary, Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word privy is an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, the word privy means having knowledge or or party to, made a participant in knowledge of something that is secret or private, hidden, private, concealed, or belonging to a person such as the British sovereign in a way that is private rather than an official capacity. This word can also refer to a privy council, a body that advises the head of state, or a privy mark, which is a  small mark in the design of a coin. It could also be used in the phrase privy purse, which refers to the British sovereign’s private income. This word can be used in many an informal or proper sense, as a slang term or formally. In some cases, this is considered an old-fashioned term, such as when referring to the principal council of the sovereign, the personal use of the monarch, cabinet ministers, the title of the person who is the principal secretary of state in charge of these moneys, or matters of subordinate consequence, and other such a privy member in the British government. It can also be used to refer to a place in which an organ of sex performs excretory functions, so it can be used in a variety of ways in a general sense. 

As a noun, the word privy (ˈprɪvi) refers to an outhouse or toilet. This could also be called a latrine, earth closet, john, backhouse, small outbuilding, outdoor toilet, or johnny house. Someone might be privy to secrets, a privy verdict, a privy mark, a privy member, a plot, a member of the privy-council, a privy place, privy councillors, a privy seal, an archaic secret, intimate knowledge, or other things that would be considered private to most. Privy is two syllables – pri-vy, and the pronunciation of privy is ˈprɪvɪ. The suffixes er and est can be added to the word privy to form the superlatives privier and priviest.

What is the origin of the word privy?

According to Etymonline, the word privy has been used since the early 13c-late 13c Middle English. This comes from the Latin prīvātus/Latin privatus, Old French privé (noun use of adjective privé and privee), the Latin prīvus and Indo-European roots. Privy council has been used since the late 14c. 

How can the word privy be used in a sentence?

The word privy can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions and start to incorporate them into your vocabulary. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes to test your own knowledge. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few different examples of the word privy to help get you started.

Hardy became privy to the woman’s secrets when they were both sitting on the bench. He glanced at her text message conversations to her partner.

The participant became privy to the inner workings of the First World War, to her dismay. She simply wanted a general view of the conference as a partaker, but once she heard the details of the conspiracy, she knew she had to say something.

She took her classmate of North to a romantic spot in the privy secret garden near the royal residence. It was like nothing they had ever seen before, and they had to create a diversion to distract the policeman to get out of the naval academy and to the private apartment at the necessary house.

What are synonyms and antonyms of privy?

There are a plethora of different words that someone can use in place of the word privy. These words which have the same definition as the word privy are called synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to expand your vocabulary and an easy way to avoid repeating yourself in speech or written work. This list of synonyms for the word privy is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  lav
  •  wise to
  •  experienced
  •  john
  •  hole-and-corner
  •  latrine
  •  head
  •  hush-hush
  •  detailed
  •  crapper
  •  secret
  •  outside toilet
  •  jakes
  •  bathroom
  •  brasco
  •  litter box
  •  water closet
  •  guarded
  •  intimate
  •  confidential
  •  rest room
  •  johns
  •  inside
  •  nonpublic
  •  lavatory
  •  not for publication
  •  covert
  •  occult
  •  obscured
  •  deep
  •  hidden
  •  independent
  •  well-rounded
  •  commode
  •  toilet
  •  potty
  •  innate
  •  aware of
  •  behind the scenes
  •  secluded
  •  earth closet
  •  cans
  •  powder room
  •  essential
  •  convenience
  •  loo
  •  closet
  •  classified
  •  in on
  •  internal
  •  johnny
  •  backhouse
  •  ulterior
  •  in the know
  •  for eyes only
  •  sandbox
  •  restroom
  •  private
  •  outside lavatory
  •  special
  •  informed of
  •  concealed
  •  ingrained
  •  comfort station
  •  off the record
  •  ladies
  •  inborn
  •  off-the-record
  •  lavs
  •  cognizant of
  •  personal
  •  inbred
  •  outhouse
  •  can
  •  exhaustive
  •  interior
  •  outbuilding
  •  inherent
  •  inmost
  •  dunny
  •  bog
  •  clandestine
  •  innermost
  •  washroom
  •  in the know about
  •  discreet
  •  bathrooms
  •  undercover
  •  furtive
  •  earth-closet
  •  toilets
  •  alive to
  •  cloakroom
  •  inner
  •  apprised of
  •  throne
  •  urinal
  •  privy to
  •  bogger
  •  lavatories
  •  privileged

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word privy. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms for different words is also a great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word privy is also provided by Power Thesaurus.  

  •  across the board
  •  vulgar
  •  enunciated
  •  outdoors
  •  unclassified
  •  broad
  •  worldwide
  •  co-operative
  •  plain
  •  prevailing
  •  briefing
  •  exposed
  •  divulged
  •  rife
  •  prevalent
  •  broadscale
  •  promulgated
  •  reported
  •  regular
  •  known
  •  communication
  •  unrestricted 
  •  communications
  •  obvious
  •  aboveboard
  •  announcement
  •  disclosed
  •  revealed
  •  open
  •  publicized
  •  avowed
  •  shared
  •  typical
  •  admission
  •  professed
  •  open chain
  •  popular
  •  published
  •  advertised
  •  planetwide
  •  overt
  •  blazed
  •  unaware
  •  high key
  •  aired
  •  all over the world
  •  normal
  •  open circuit
  •  undisguised
  •  general
  •  unknowing
  •  breathe
  •  high-key
  •  patent
  •  public
  •  unconcealed
  •  common
  •  uninformed
  •  evident
  •  open up
  •  manifest
  •  communal
  •  acknowledged
  •  straightforward
  •  well-known
  •  spotlighted
  •  broadcast
  •  international

Overall, the adjective privy means private or concealed. This can also refer to a toilet or outhouse.


  1. Privy Meaning | Best 17 Definitions of Privy | Your Dictionary 
  2. Privy synonyms – 844 Words and Phrases for Privy | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Privy antonyms – 68 Opposites of Privy | Power Thesaurus 
  4. privy | Origin and meaning of privy | Online Etymology Dictionary