Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Anglo-Norman, 13th century
Sharing in the knowledge of (something secret or private)
(archaic) Hidden; secret.
Examples of Privy in a sentence
"My sisters and I made sure our mom wasn’t privy to our surprise-party plans."
"My uncle’s office opened onto a room whose door appeared to be a privy bookcase."
Popularity Over Time
From the Anglo-Norman/middle French “prevé” (also “privié” or “privé”), which at various times has meant “intimate,” “reserved for only some people,” “secret,” and “isolated.”
Did you Know?
The most common form of “privy” in modern English is the adjective describing someone who shares in the knowledge of something secret or private, such as when a judge calls attorneys to the bench and has a conversation only they are privy to. But dating back to its entry into English in the 1200s, the word “privy” has also evoked the common outdoor toilet. The simple reason for this is that the early forms of the root-word “prevé” apply to outhouses. They are intimate, isolated places reserved for only some people — the inhabitants of a home, and their guests.