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

Hernandez-Perez was arrested Thursday and charged with 58 counts of possessing counterfeit credit cards and one count of unlawful transportation of fuel, court records show. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Accused fuel pirate had nearly 60 counterfeit credit cards, police say," 28 June 2019 Pugh-Cox was charged with unlawful use of a weapon for possessing the handgun inside the car, police said. Megan Jones, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora brothers face charges after traffic stop," 10 June 2019 According to witnesses, the same man was later arrested in the French Quarter for possessing a firearm. Doug Maccash, nola.com, "A cyclist hoped to carry a rifle and handgun in New Orleans Naked Bike Ride," 9 June 2019 Trivedi is also prohibited from possessing any animals and must submit to mental health evaluation and treatment as part of his plea agreement. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "DeKalb doctor pleads guilty to hoarding birds," 22 June 2018 These folks expressed and possessed low levels of cognition. Imani J. Jackson, Essence, "U.N. Recognizes Fort Mose, Free Black Town Established 127 Years Before Juneteenth," 19 June 2019 Feld set bonds of $401,000 and ordered Taylor to not contact the officials named in the threats or possess guns or ammunition; to not use the Internet and, if he is freed on bond, to be supervised before trial with a GPS monitor. Linda Trischitta, sun-sentinel.com, "Man accused of posting Facebook messages about killing the FBI director, the governor and the sheriff," 19 June 2019 Anyone would be lucky to possess half the wit of my National Review colleague Madeleine Kearns. Sahil Handa, National Review, "If It’s ‘Time for Boris,’ the Clock Has Stopped Working," 17 June 2019 As an alien unlawfully in the United States, Huazo-Jardinez is prohibited by federal statute from possessing a firearm, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Daily Democrat, The Mercury News, "Mexican national accused of killing 3 Northern California family members in DUI crash faces federal charges," 14 June 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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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

7 Jul 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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