private

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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.
See also: branch, exchange, private

private language

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.
See also: language, private

in private

privately; without others present. I'd like to speak to you in private. I enjoy spending the evening in private.
See also: private

free enterprise

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

in private

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.
See also: private

private eye

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]
See also: eye, private

private eye

n. a detective who is licensed to work privately rather than for a police department. I worked for a while as a private eye.
See also: eye, private

go private

To take a publicly owned company into private ownership, as by a leveraged buyout.
See also: private

in private

Not in public; secretly or confidentially.
See also: private
References in classic literature ?
I leave to your prudence what measures you will take; and to avoid suspicion, I must immediately return in as private a manner as I came.
Permits are now being offered to one private company in each city, in return for three per cent of the revenue.
But it may be asked how Individualism, which is now more or less dependent on the existence of private property for its development, will benefit by the abolition of such private property.
And the Hospital Orderly was so satisfied with the justice of the punishment that he did not even order Private Dormer back to his cot.
And so much of public envy or discontentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which was handled in the first place.
Grimy sailors came down out of the foretop placidly announcing themselves as "a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation and unostentatiously," etc.
Again he heard himself called for as Brother Bulstrode in prayer meetings, speaking on religious platforms, preaching in private houses.
Guph went to the King's private cave and sat down upon an amethyst chair and put his feet on the arm of the King's ruby throne.
That is how it happened that one of Buell's men, Private Bennett Story Greene, committed the indiscretion of striking his officer.
Questioned as to certain private conversations which had passed between her late daughter-in-law and herself, she declared that Mrs.
In the first room as you enter you will find the office servant; in the second, the under-clerks; the private office of the second head-clerk is to the right or left, and further on is that of the head of the bureau.
I have in my Army eight Generals, six Colonels, seven Majors and five Captains, besides one private for them to command.
You and Launce are coming to dinner, and I will see that you have your little private opportunities of retirement afterward.
Everything, of course, is in code, yet we know this for a fact: a good deal of private information passing between the Admiral and his commanders was known in Germany three hours after the signals themselves had been given.
The prince says that private persons cannot take part in war without the permission of the government.