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Definition Essay – Different Meanings Of Private

656 words - 3 pages

Definition Essay – Different Meanings of Private

“Property is a central economic institution of any society, and private property is the central institution of a free society.” This was a quote by David Friedman (Friedman). The word dealt with in this essay is ‘private’ and this quote exactly examines one of the prime meanings of private. The main aim of my essay is to explain the different meanings of the word private and to explain the significance and variations of its usage over the past decades.

My research regarding the meaning of the word private was accounted from three dictionaries. The three dictionaries that have been selected are - Webster’s New World dictionary of the American language (1961), Webster – An American dictionary of the English language(1844) and Oxford English Dictionary (1989) According to all these dictionaries private had three differentiable meanings. The first one was - of concerning a particular person or a group, not general for example private property, a private joke or view etc, and also in other words not open to the public or controlled by the public as in private school. The second one was – not holding public office and away from public view as in a private citizen or company. The third one was – A soldier below the rank of a non-commissioned officer. Here private is used as an abbreviation. Now though the meaning of the word private as already stated above are similar to the meanings listed in the dictionaries, However a noticable change in pattern for implying the meaning through the decades in these dictionaries.

One major thing that will not go unnoticed is that the dictionaries of the latter half have more sets of sub meanings for the word and are also less descriptive than the one in the earlier times. For example in the 1844 edition Webster dictionary it is stated that one meaning of private is properly, separate; unconnected with others, hence peculiar to ones self;...

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