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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Privilege


PRIV'ILEGE, noun [Latin privilegium; privus, separate, private, and lex, law; originally a private law, some public act that regarded an individual.]

1. A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company or society, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. A privilege may be a particular right granted by law or held by custom, or it may be an exemption from some burden to which others are subject. The nobles of Great Britain have the privilege of being triable by their peers only. Members of parliament and of our legislatures have the privilege of exemption from arrests in certain cases. The powers of a banking company are privileges granted by the legislature.

He pleads the legal privilege of a Roman.

The privilege of birthright was a double portion.

2. Any peculiar benefit or advantage, right or immunity, not common to others of the human race. Thus we speak of national privileges, and civil and political privileges, which we enjoy above other nations. We have ecclesiastical and religious privileges secured to us by our constitutions of government. Personal privileges are attached to the person; as those of embassadors, peers, members of legislatures, etc. Real privileges are attached to place; as the privileges of the king's palace in England.

3. Advantage; favor; benefit.

A nation despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.

Writ of privilege is a writ to deliver a privileged person from custody when arrested in a civil suit.

PRIV'ILEGE, verb transitive To grant some particular right or exemption to; to invest with a peculiar right or immunity; as, to privilege representatives from arrest; to privilege the officers and students of a college from military duty.

1. To exempt from ensure or danger.

This place doth privilege me.