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 possessionpossessed 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

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 He, too, is charged with murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, as well as illegally possessing a firearm and evading officers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2nd suspect charged with murder in shooting at La Jolla house party," 13 Sep. 2019 He was already charged by state authorities with murder, attempted murder and certain persons forbidden to possess a firearm. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Suspect in shooting death of 4-year-old Birmingham girl arrested on federal gun charge," 12 Sep. 2019 Even for those that are, federal law stipulates a limited number of reasons why a person would be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Lisa Marie Pane, The Denver Post, "U.S. mass shooters exploited gaps, errors in background checks," 7 Sep. 2019 Even for those that are, federal law stipulates a limited number of reasons why a person would be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Lisa Marie Pane, chicagotribune.com, "American mass shooters exploit background check errors, poor enforcement, private purchases; most get guns legally," 7 Sep. 2019 Even for those that are, federal law stipulates a limited number of reasons why a person would be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Washington Post, "US mass shooters exploited gaps, errors in background checks," 7 Sep. 2019 What would possess me to provide such an intimate detail? Sandra Sidi, The Atlantic, "The Male Gaze on Steroids," 6 Sep. 2019 Luther would not have been allowed to possess a firearm under California law because of his criminal record. Los Angeles Times, "Gunman fired 100 rounds in Riverside freeway shooting that killed CHP officer," 29 Aug. 2019 Applicants must go through a rigorous process to be allowed to possess a firearm in India. Amy Woodyatt And Manveena Suri, CNN, "Applying for a gun license? Plant ten trees first, Indian district says," 29 July 2019

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

27 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Possess.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possesses. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for possess

possess

verb
How to pronounce possess (audio) How to pronounce possess (audio)

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
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for possess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with possess

Spanish Central: Translation of possess

Nglish: Translation of possess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of possess for Arabic Speakers

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