pos·​ses·​sion | \ pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio) also -ˈse- \

Definition of possession

1a : the act of having or taking into control
b : control or occupancy of property without regard to ownership
c : ownership
d : control of the ball or puck also : an instance of having such control (as in football) scored on their first two possessions
2 : something owned, occupied, or controlled : property
3a : domination by something (such as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea)
b : a psychological state in which an individual's normal personality is replaced by another

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Other Words from possession

possessional \ pə-​ˈzesh-​nəl How to pronounce possession (audio) , -​ˈze-​shə-​nᵊl also  -​ˈsesh-​nəl or  -​ˈse-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
possessionless \ pə-​ˈze-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce possession (audio) , -​ˈse-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for possession



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Examples of possession in a Sentence

The city can take possession of the abandoned buildings. She came into possession of a rare silver coin. The family lost all of its possessions in the fire. This ring was my mother's most precious possession. The defendant was charged with heroin possession.
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Recent Examples on the Web Charges included drug possession, animal cruelty and tax fraud. Todd Martens Game Critic, Los Angeles Times, "DMX, gravel-voiced hip-hop star who topped charts in late ‘90s, dead at 50," 9 Apr. 2021 He was arrested dozens of times on numerous charges, including drug possession, animal abuse, and robbery. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "DMX, hip-hop superstar, dies at 50," 9 Apr. 2021 Electrocution, convulsion, possession, all of the above, all at once. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "The world is fast. Bad Brains is faster.," 8 Apr. 2021 Employers are not required to permit or otherwise accommodate the use, possession, sale, or transfer of cannabis in the workplace and can prohibit employees from being impaired during work hours. Alonzo Martinez, Forbes, "A New York State Of Mind – What Legalized Weed In The Workplace Means For Employers," 6 Apr. 2021 Mason Meyer, 28, was indicted for two counts of murder, four counts of wanton endangerment, possession of meth, persistent felony offender, and fleeing and evading, according to the Campbell County Clerk of Courts. Joanna Bouras, The Enquirer, "Driver pleads guilty to gun charges in connection with NKY police chase that killed two," 5 Apr. 2021 Waid ended Youngstown State’s first possession — a 13-play, 69-yarder that ate up 6:33 — with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christian Turner. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "Youngstown State vs. Western Illinois football LIVE STREAM (4/3/21): Watch FCS college game on ESPN Plus," 3 Apr. 2021 First up: demonic possession, traumatic dreams and killer jeans. Erik Piepenburg, New York Times, "Stream These 5 Chilling New Horror Movies," 2 Apr. 2021 Down 6, the Bulls’ best chance was a 2-for-1 involving two threes: a quick three make, a stout defensive possession, and then another three. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "The Triple Team: Jazz might have been a little fortunate to have a lead, but played well enough to beat the Bulls," 2 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'possession.' 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 possession

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for possession

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for possession

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for possession



English Language Learners Definition of possession

formal : the condition of having or owning something
: something that is owned or possessed by someone
law : the crime of having something that is illegal (such as a drug or weapon)


pos·​ses·​sion | \ pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio) \

Kids Definition of possession

1 : the condition of having or owning something The will is in my possession.
2 : something that is held by someone as property a valuable possession


pos·​ses·​sion | \ pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio) \

Legal Definition of possession

1 : the act, fact, or condition of having control of something: as
a : actual possession in this entry
b : constructive possession in this entry
c : knowing dominion and control over a controlled substance or other contraband
d in the civil law of Louisiana : the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing
e : control or occupancy of property
actual possession
1 : direct occupancy, use, or control of real property had actual possession of the land despite a lack of legal title
2 : direct physical custody, care, or control of property or contraband (as illegal drugs) actual possession is not necessary to sustain a convictionState v. Garrison, 896 S.W.2d 689 (1995)
adverse possession
: actual possession of another's real property that is open, hostile, exclusive, continuous, adverse to the claim of the owner, often under a claim of right or color of title, and that may give rise to title in the possessor if carried out for a specified statutory period (as ten years) also : the method of acquiring title by such possession — see also hostile possession and notorious possession in this entry — compare prescription
civil possession
in the civil law of Louisiana : possession that exists by virtue of an intent to be the owner of a property even though one no longer occupies or has physical control of it
constructive possession
1 : possession that exists by virtue of a right (as by title) rather than direct occupancy or control
2 : the knowing ability and sometimes intent to exercise dominion and control over something (as illegal drugs) either directly or through others
hostile possession
: possession (as in adverse possession) that is antagonistic to the claims of all others (as a record owner) and that is carried out with the intention to possess the property exclusively
notorious possession
: possession (as in adverse possession) that is so conspicuous that it is generally known by people in the vicinity of the property and so gives rise to a presumption that the owner has notice of it
precarious possession
in the civil law of Louisiana : possession of property that is exercised by another (as a lessee) with the permission of or on behalf of the owner — see also acquisitive prescription at prescription
2 : something controlled, occupied, or owned personal possessions

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