possess

verb
pos·​sess | \ pə-ˈzes How to pronounce possess (audio) also -ˈses How to pronounce possess (audio) \
possessed; possessing; possesses

Essential Meaning of possess

1 formal : to have or own (something) nations that possess nuclear weapons The defendant was charged with possessing cocaine. See More ExamplesThe ruby was once possessed by an ancient queen. He dreams of someday possessing great wealth.Hide
2 : to have or show (a particular quality, ability, skill, etc.) He possesses a keen wit. The drug possesses the potential to suppress tumors. Do dolphins possess the ability to use language?
3 of spirits : to enter into and control (someone)

Full 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

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 But every thousand years, she is forced to surface, arousing the desire of men to possess her and her secret. John Hopewell, Variety, 22 Nov. 2021 But even if Biden had the genius for marketing that ex-President Donald Trump claims to possess, simply doing a better job of showcasing the infrastructure law would not do the complex layers of the nation's mood sufficient justice. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 18 Nov. 2021 Taking advantage of these opportunities to find solutions that are fast, meaningful and articulate a vision of the future is a game-changing perspective to possess. Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 That was the court’s rationale for rulings in 2008 and 2010 that declared a right to possess handguns at home. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Nov. 2021 In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that Americans have an individual right to possess a handgun inside their homes but said nothing about that right in public places. Devin Dwyer, ABC News, 3 Nov. 2021 Jubb must complete 40 hours of community service within a year and was ordered not to possess or use any alcoholic beverages or enter any bars, taverns, liquor stores or dispensaries. oregonlive, 29 Oct. 2021 Newman is also charged with having a gun, which he is prohibited to possess because he has been convicted of domestic violence charges. BostonGlobe.com, 28 Oct. 2021 After being released from prison, Smith was arrested Sept. 28, 2018, on two counts of theft of property and certain persons forbidden to possess a firearm. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 27 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near possess

possentrie

possess

possessable

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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Possess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possess. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for possess

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

More from Merriam-Webster on possess

Nglish: Translation of possess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of possess for Arabic Speakers

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