private(redirected from privateness)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
private branch exchange
A telephone system within an institution or business that can only be used by the people inside that establishment. There was an issue with the private branch exchange this morning, but we hope to have the phones working again shortly.
1. A way of communicating that is shared between and understood by only a few people. My sister and I have had our own private language ever since we were girls—our brothers still can't understand it! After working together for so many years, Ellen and I have a private language that is all our own.
2. philosophy A type of inner language only comprehensible to a single person. The concept was introduced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who argued that it could not exist. The concept of private language is still a topic of debate among philosophers, especially due to its potential ramifications for metaphysics.
privately; without others present. I'd like to speak to you in private. I enjoy spending the evening in private.
Also, private enterprise. An undertaking on one's own behalf, especially a shady or illegal one. For example, The city treasurer didn't bother with competitive bids; the spirit of free enterprise just led him to his brother-in-law , or The sergeant indulged in a little private enterprise, selling cigarettes on the black market . This sarcastic application of a term that has meant, since about 1885, the freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with a minimum of government control, dates from the mid-1900s.
See also: free
Not in public; secretly, confidentially. For example, The hearings will be conducted in private, or May I speak to you in private? [Late 1500s] For an antonym, see in public.
A privately employed detective, as opposed to one working for the police or another authority. For example, The children loved stories about private eyes, and Janey wanted to become one. This expression comes from the term private investigator, the "i" of investigator being changed to "eye," which plays on the idea of a person looking into things. [1930s]
n. a detective who is licensed to work privately rather than for a police department. I worked for a while as a private eye.
To take a publicly owned company into private ownership, as by a leveraged buyout.
Not in public; secretly or confidentially.