possess

verb
pos·​sess | \pə-ˈzes also -ˈses \
possessed; possessing; possesses

Definition of possess 

transitive verb

1a : to have and hold as property : own

b : to have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill

2a : to seize and take control of : take into one's possession

b : to enter into and control firmly : dominate was possessed by demons

c : to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction melancholy possesses her

3a obsolete : to instate as owner

b : to make the owner or holder used in passive construction to indicate simple possession possessed of richespossessed of knowledge and experience

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Other Words from possess

possessor \pə-​ˈze-​sər also -​ˈse-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for possess

Synonyms

command, enjoy, have, hold, own, retain

Antonyms

lack, want

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Examples of possess in a Sentence

What would possess seemingly sane people to treat concrete walls like trampolines? — Alice Park, Time, 16 Apr. 2007 People who experience specific colors when looking at particular letters, such as seeing sky blue when shown an R, possess an unusual abundance of connections in brain areas involved in word and color perception, a new brain-imaging investigation finds. — Bruce Bower, Science News, 26 May 2007 What does matter is that we come to recognize that playfulness, as a philosophical stance, can be very serious, indeed; and, moreover, that it possesses an unfailing capacity to arouse ridicule and hostility in those among us who crave certainty, reverence, and restraint. — Tom Robbins, Harper's, September 2004 nations that possess nuclear weapons The defendant was charged with possessing cocaine. The ruby was once possessed by an ancient queen. He dreams of someday possessing great wealth. He possesses a keen wit. The drug possesses the potential to suppress tumors. Do dolphins possess the ability to use language?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Credence is possessed by a dark destructive force known as an Obscurus, which Grindelwald hopes to use as a weapon against his nemesis, Albus Dumbledore. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "The biggest unanswered questions from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," 26 Nov. 2018 According to this view, the most basic property right was that of self-ownership, a right possessed by every human being. David S. Reynolds, WSJ, "‘No Property in Man’ and ‘The War Before the War’ Review: The Fuse the Founders Lit," 22 Nov. 2018 The particles would likely possess considerable mass. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 As more Sacred Riana look-alike characters walked on stage and began attacking her, the magician started scaling the wall as if she was possessed by a demon and desperately trying to escape. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'America's Got Talent' Fans Enraged After Sacred Riana's Act Was Mysteriously "Cut Off"," 22 Aug. 2018 Those men were able to step in at lower risk to themselves (not to mention others) than if the attacker had possessed a gun. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Why? Gun control.," 11 Nov. 2018 Those 21 and older will be able to buy and possess marijuana for recreational use and also grow up to 12 cannabis plants in their home for personal use. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Three states vote in favor of marijuana," 7 Nov. 2018 Each season concludes with a mutable sign — Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, or Pisces — that possesses effortless fluidity well-suited to change and transformation. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Each Zodiac Sign's Unique Personality Traits, Explained by an Astrologer," 28 Oct. 2018 To shed light on how super-Earths might form, scientists looked at stars that host super-Earths to see how many also possessed Jupiter-like worlds. Charles Q. Choi, Space.com, "Most Stars with Jupiters Have Giant Super-Earths," 18 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'possess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of possess

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for possess

Middle English, from Middle French possesser to have possession of, take possession of, from Latin possessus, past participle of possidēre, from potis able, having the power + sedēre to sit — more at potent, sit

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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for possess

The first known use of possess was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for possess

possess

verb

English Language Learners Definition of possess

: to have or own (something)

: to have or show (a particular quality, ability, skill, etc.)

of spirits : to enter into and control (someone)

possess

verb
pos·​sess | \pə-ˈzes \
possessed; possessing

Kids Definition of possess

1 : to have and hold as property : own I possess little money.

2 : to have as a characteristic or quality The black wolf also possessed wisdom, she had observed.— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves

3 : to enter into and control possessed by a demon What possessed you to say that?

Other Words from possess

possessor \-​ər \ noun

possess

transitive verb
pos·​sess | \pə-ˈzes \

Legal Definition of possess 

: to have possession of

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More from Merriam-Webster on possess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with possess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for possess

Spanish Central: Translation of possess

Nglish: Translation of possess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of possess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on possess

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