Definition Essay - The Word 'Private'
Private is a word with a multitude of meanings, some known and others not so known. When searched for in a dictionary, it can be found that the definitions don't vary much between the three dictionaries, although the dictionary from 1913 had a few dissimilar terms. The word private was looked up in Webster Dictionary from 1913, The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, and the Oxford English Dictionary: Second Edition. Many people think of private as meaning something in solitude, or secretive. Reading these dictionary entries revealed the labyrinthine meaning of the word private.
Some of the definitions seem very similar to the way private is used in every day life, however others seem hidden as though they were private definitions themselves. Most freshmen at Michigan State University and students at Waterford Mott High School don't use that word commonly in every day conversation but when we do use it, the context in which it is used usually gives the implied meaning of being secretive or sheltered from other people's awareness. Rarely, for instance, is it used to mean a private in the armed forces or, "One not invested with a public office" ("Private").
Reading these three dictionaries' entries raises one's understanding of the word, for the most part, however a couple definitions are found which are not very well-known. The different definitions of the word private basically show that peoples' understanding of the word is "under construction," even though there are meanings of the word they rarely use. A few of the definitions in the dictionary from 1913 were surprising; e.g. it discusses an archaic definition (see above quote) along with the definition, "not general" ("Private"). Among the five pages of entries just on the word private in the...