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What is Public? What is Private?

public address system, public charity, public convenience, public debate, public debt, Public defender, public discussion, public domain, public domain software, public easement, public executioner, public exposure, public eye, public figure, public health, Public Health Service Act, public house, Public Key Infrastructure, public knowledge, public lavatory, Public law, public lecture, public library, public mover, public nudity, public nuisance, public opinion, public opinion poll, public presentation, public press, public property, public prosecutor, public relations, public relations man, public school, public security, public servant, public service, Public Service Commission, public speaker, public speaking, public square, Public Switched Telephone Network, public toilet, public transit, public transport, public treasury, public trust, public utility, public violence, public works, publically, Publican, publication, Public-hearted, publicise, publicised, publiciser, publicist, publicity, publicity man, Publicity pamphlet, publicize, publicized, publicizer, publicizing, public-key cryptography, Public-Key Cryptography Standards, public-key encryption, publicly, Public-minded, Publicness, public-relations campaign, public-service corporation, Public-spirited, publish, publishable, published,publisher, publishing, publishing company, publishing conglomerate, publishing empire, publishing firm, publishing house, Publishment, Publius, Publius Aelius Hadrianus, Publius Cornelius Scipio, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major, Publius Ovidius Naso, Publius Terentius Afer, Publius Vergilius Maro

[n]  a body of people sharing some common interest; "the reading public"

[n]  people in general considered as a whole; "he is a hero in the eyes of the public"

[adj]  affecting the people or community as a whole; "community leaders"; "community interests"; "the public welfare"

[adj]  not private; open to or concerning the people as a whole; "the public good"; "public libraries"; "public funds"; "public parks"; "a public scandal"; "public gardens"; "performers and members of royal families are public figures"

common, community(a), in the public eye(p), national, open, populace, semipublic, state, state-supported, unexclusive, unrestricted, world

See Also:
admass, audience, body, exoteric, overt, people


The lists & definitions above and below are from entries in the HyperDictionary for "public" and "private." One of the striking things in these lists is how much morally better "public" is considered to be than "private". Almost all the meanings associated with "public" have an upright feel to them (the darkest is "pub" as in a "public house for drinking"), whereas the meanings of "private" include low rank, secrecy, sex, privation, theft, selfishness, and snobbishness. It is almost as if the mere activity of closing a door is suspect. If you close a door, the question arises right away: what's behind it? why can't I go in?

The Dutch, by custom, cover their front windows with lace rather than heavy curtains -- in the evenings, when the windows are lit, you can walk down the streets and see families moving about, eating, reading, talking, watching television. The implication of the custom is that the family does nothing in private that can't be seen publicly. It's a kind of proof of morality and good behavior.

When we go out into public space, we carry our private selves. It's almost like our bodies are ambulatory homes. Appearance may be public, thoughts are private. When we publish something, we bring our private thoughts into a collective conversation.

One of the works in the free biennial, Aram Saroyan's "though," has survived on my street for almost two years so far. I love to walk by and look at it, whenever it's not covered by layered flyers. It's clearly a public work, but the thoughts it embodies seem almost stubbornly private. Its mystery creates a little eddy in the flow of advertising, fashion, commerce, and transportation. A little "who?" a little "what?" a little "why?". Yet, at the same time, its language is so transparent, so simple, that even asking what it means seems peculiar. It's a kind of koan, a door that is open and closed at the same time.

Privatdocent, Private Automatic Branch eXchange, Private Branch Exchange, private corporation, private detective, private eye, private foundation, private instructor, private investigator, Private law, private line, Private Manual Branch eXchange, private nuisance, private parts, private property, private road, private school, private security force, private treaty, private-enterprise(a), Privateer, Privateering, Privateersman, privately, privately held corporation, privateness, privates, privation, privatise, Privative, Privatively, Privativeness, privatize

[n]  an enlisted man of the lowest rank; "our prisoner was just a private and knew nothing of value"

[adj]  not expressed; "secret (or private) thoughts"

[adj]  concerning one person exclusively; "we all have individual cars"; "each room has a private bath"

[adj]  concerning things deeply private and personal; "private correspondence"; "private family matters"

[adj]  confined to particular persons or groups or providing privacy; "a private place"; "private discussions"; "private lessons"; "a private club"; "a private secretary"; "private property"; "the former President is now a private citizen"; "public figures struggle to maintain a private life"
backstage, buck private, clannish, cliquish, cloistered, close, closed-door, closet(a), clubby, common soldier, confidential, individual(a), insular, inward, nonpublic, offstage, one-on-one, personal, privy, reclusive, secluded, secret, sequestered, snobbish, snobby, tete-a-tete, toffee-nosed

See Also:
enlisted man, esoteric

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