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Inherited from Middle English privacioun, from Middle French privation, privacion, from Old French privacion, from Latin prīvātiō; compare French privation. See private.[1]


  • IPA(key): /pɹɪˈveɪʃən/, /pɹaɪˈveɪʃən/[2]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃən


privation (countable and uncountable, plural privations)

  1. (philosophy) The state of being deprived of or lacking an attribute formerly or properly possessed; the loss or absence of such an attribute.
  2. The state of being very poor, and lacking the basic necessities of life.
    • 1820 July, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “Traits of Indian Character”, in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 1st UK edition, volume II, London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, page 213:
      His [the Native American's] nature is stern, simple and enduring; fitted to grapple with difficulties, and to support privations.
    • 1974, Timothy A. Ross, Chiang Kuei[2], New York: Twayne Publishers, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 59:
      For Yen Hsüeh-mei, the Shanghai-bred nurse, life in northern Hupei must have represented a striking change. Lao-ho-k'ou was the headquarters of General Li Tsung-jen, commander of the Fifth War Area. [] If the General lived in such humble quarters, it is safe to say that the quarters to which Chiang Kuei brought his wife were plainer yet. But physical privation was nearly universal and in many ways Lao-ho-k'ou was an interesting place to be.
    • 2023 June 13, Dwight Garner, “Cormac McCarthy, Novelist of a Darker America, Is Dead at 89”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      Mr. McCarthy wrote for many years in relative obscurity and privation.
  3. The act of depriving someone of such basic necessities; deprivation.
  4. (obsolete) Degradation or suspension from an office.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XXV, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 299:
      Refinement and amusement, like knowledge, are so diffused now-a-days, that an exile from the royal circle would be a nominal punishment; but it then included every species of privation. The theatre—at that era such a resource—balls, fêtes, &c., to say nothing of worldly influence, were all forfeited by a banishment from court, the centre of all the pleasures, variety, and ambition of society.


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  1. ^ John A. Simpson and Edmund S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “privation”, in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN.
  2. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volumes I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 4.86, page 145.



From Latin prīvātiōnem.



privation f (plural privations)

  1. deprivation
  2. shortage, deficiency
  3. defect

Related terms[edit]

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