"private," early 13c., from Old French privé "friendly, intimate; a private place," from Latin privatus "private, personal" (see private (adj.)). Meaning "participating in (a secret)" (usually with to) is attested from late 14c. Related: Privily. Privy Council is from c. 1300 in a general sense; specifically of the British government, first attested late 14c., as consaile priue. Privy member "organ of sex" is from late 13c.