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verb \ˈsēz\

Simple Definition of seize

  • : to use legal or official power to take (something)

  • : to get or take (something) in a forceful, sudden, or violent way

  • : to attack and take control of (a place) by force or violence

Full Definition of seize


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a usually seise play \ˈsēz\ :  to vest ownership of a freehold estate inb often seise :  to put in possession of something <the biographer will be seized of all pertinent papers>

  3. 2a :  to take possession of :  confiscateb :  to take possession of by legal process

  4. 3a :  to possess or take by force :  captureb :  to take prisoner :  arrest

  5. 4a :  to take hold of :  clutchb :  to possess oneself of :  graspc :  to understand fully and distinctly :  apprehend

  6. 5a :  to attack or overwhelm physically :  afflict <seized with chest pains>b :  to possess (as one's mind) completely or overwhelmingly <seized the popular imagination — Basil Davenport>

  7. 6 :  to bind or fasten together with a lashing of small stuff (as yarn, marline, or fine wire)

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 :  to take or lay hold suddenly or forcibly

  10. 2a :  to cohere to a relatively moving part through excessive pressure, temperature, or friction —used especially of machine parts (as bearings, brakes, or pistons)b :  to fail to operate due to the seizing of a part —used of an engine

seiz·er noun

Examples of seize

  1. The bank seized their property.

  2. The army has seized control of the city.

  3. A rebel group attempted to seize power.

  4. He suddenly seized the lead in the final lap of the race.

  5. He seized her by the arm.

  6. He tried to seize the gun from him.

  7. She was seized by kidnappers and carried off to a hidden location.

  8. He seized the chance to present his ideas to his boss.

  9. Seizing the moment, she introduced herself to the famous film director.

Origin of seize

Middle English saisen, from Anglo-French seisir, from Medieval Latin sacire, of Germanic origin; perhaps akin to Old High German sezzen to set — more at set

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of seize

take, seize, grasp, clutch, snatch, grab mean to get hold of by or as if by catching up with the hand. take is a general term applicable to any manner of getting something into one's possession or control <take some salad from the bowl>. seize implies a sudden and forcible movement in getting hold of something tangible or an apprehending of something fleeting or elusive when intangible <seized the suspect>. grasp stresses a laying hold so as to have firmly in possession <grasp the handle and pull>. clutch suggests avidity or anxiety in seizing or grasping and may imply less success in holding <clutching her purse>. snatch suggests more suddenness or quickness but less force than seize <snatched a doughnut and ran>. grab implies more roughness or rudeness than snatch <grabbed roughly by the arm>.

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February 9, 2016

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