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 How to pronounce possess (audio) also  -​ˈse-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for possess

Synonyms

Antonyms

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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 His arm strength is considered only average, certainly not in the range that Lance and Zach Wilson possess. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Mac Jones is perfect fit with Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way, but don't start Tom Brady comparisons," 30 Apr. 2021 Then there’s the plot, which has a level of craft that studio pictures rarely possess. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Tom Clancy Movies, Ranked," 30 Apr. 2021 These qualities come from a set of strategic networking skills that non-leaders rarely possess. Soulaima Gourani, Forbes, "The Art Of Virtual Networking," 28 Apr. 2021 The trick, of course, would be to match the speed and safety of an aerial drone with the kind of scientific might that NASA’s rovers already possess. Mike Wehner, BGR, "NASA’s Mars helicopter just took an extremely long flight," 26 Apr. 2021 Averaging slightly more than three receptions a game, Williams became even less of a downfield threat than Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson, both of whom possess the speed to stress secondaries. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Highly paid Mike Williams has room to improve in Chargers’ receiving corps," 19 Apr. 2021 And as good as Portland’s offense is, it can be slowed down by strong defenses, which most of the high-end teams possess. oregonlive, "‘We get put away’: Portland Trail Blazers running out of time to solve issues against top-tier teams," 9 Apr. 2021 Our intent is to emphasize the positive attributes Newington residents possess. courant.com, "Community News For The Wethersfield Edition," 9 Apr. 2021 For much of the 20th century, nonhuman creatures were seen as essentially biological automatons that responded in certain instinctual ways to external stimulus, but lacked the rich inner lives and selfhood that humans possess. Washington Post, "Eye-opening acts of empathy in the animal kingdom," 9 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for possess

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Possess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possess. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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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Comments on possess

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