possess

verb
pos·​sess | \ pə-ˈzes How to pronounce possess (audio) also -ˈses How to pronounce possess (audio) \
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-​ How to pronounce possessor (audio) \ 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

There can be some blurriness between what constitutes a demon versus a ghost, but in most cases, a demon is capable of possessing humans, can usually shape-shift, and often come alongside some religious connotations. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "Ghosts, witches, zombies: which supernatural creature makes the most money at the box office?," 31 Oct. 2018 Clooney is representing Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced this month to seven years in prison after being found guilty of possessing Myanmar state secrets. Kayleigh Roberts, Harper's BAZAAR, "Amal Clooney Wore a Powerful Red Dress to the United Nations General Assembly," 29 Sep. 2018 And while Kvitová doesn’t have such a glaring vulnerability, Osaka moves around the court a little more efficiently—and, much like Rafael Nadal, seems to possess the ability to simply will herself to win when the chips are down. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Set Your Alarms (or Your DVRs): Your Cheat Sheet to the Australian Open Final," 25 Jan. 2019 Under Canadian law, adults 18 and older will be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational use, and grow a maximum of four plants, according to TIME. Gabrielle Sorto, Teen Vogue, "Malaysia May Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana," 26 Sep. 2018 These controversial ingredients — including methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben — have been shown to possess weak estrogen-like properties, but the FDA deems them safe when used at very low levels (.01 to .3 percent) in cosmetics. Allure, "The Skin-Care Glossary: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know," 17 Aug. 2018 Moss was ordered to surrender his guns to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and told not to possess any firearms until the protective order expired. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore Police detective suspended after judge orders him to give up gun in domestic violence case," 13 July 2018 Ask the front desk to arrange an excursion into the waters around Filicudi with a local; don’t miss La Canna rock (trips from $25), a basalt tower rising from the sea that is said to possess magical powers. Howie Kahn, Smithsonian, "These Volcanic, Italian Islands Have Been Beloved by Travelers Since Homeric Times," 11 July 2018 Her bill would set a minimum age of 18 to possess fireworks; require they be ignited at least 200 feet from any structure, vehicle or person; and mandate that retailers register with the state fire marshal. Robert Mccoppin, chicagotribune.com, "Legal fireworks in Illinois? Despite annual injury toll, lawmaker proposes that state join pyrotechnics market," 10 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

17 Mar 2019

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

formal : 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 How to pronounce possess (audio) \
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 How to pronounce possess (audio) \

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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