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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.[1]

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.

See also

Notes

  1. Suzanna McNichol, The Law of Privilege (1st ed, 1992)

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also privilège

Contents

English

Part or all of this page has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

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Pronunciation

  • IPA: /ˈpɹɪvəlɛdʒ/ (Canadian) or /ˈpɹɪv(ə)lɪdʒ/ (RP) or /ˈpɹɪv(ə)lədʒ/
  •  Audio (US)help, file

Etymology

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

Noun

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Wikipedia

Singular
privilege

Plural
privileges

privilege (plural privileges)

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

Synonyms

Translations

Verb

Infinitive
to privilege

Third person singular
privileges

Simple past
privileged

Past participle
privileged

Present participle
privileging

to privilege (third-person singular simple present privileges, present participle privileging, simple past and past participle privileged)

  1. (archaic) 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. (archaic) To bring or put into a condition of privilege or exemption from evil or danger; to exempt; to deliver.

Translations


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