Definition Essay - The Word 'Private'

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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
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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 Oxford English Dictionary, one definition which was found to be unknown is, "Used with reference to medical treatment and facilities for which fees are charged to the patient instead of being provided by the state or a public body" ("Private").

One can learn a lot about the word private after doing a presentation on freedom of expression; when something like that is taught, it is absorbed and remains in the instrcutor's memory for some time. The presentation would have to entail things like the USA PATRIOT Act, which has a lot to do with private and privacy matters to be sure.

There are a few obscure differences and a few more obvious differences between the three dictionaries. The Oxford English Dictionary is definitely the most complex in its entry on the word private, taking up five pages alone. Webster
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