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

Definition of possession

1a : the act of having or taking into control
b : control or occupancy of property without regard to 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 possessional (audio) , -​ˈze-​shə-​nᵊl also  -​ˈsesh-​nəl or  -​ˈse-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
possessionless \ pə-​ˈze-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce possessionless (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 On Mesquite's first possession of the game, the momentum swung in their favor as junior QB Ty Thompson threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jacob Walker. Dana Scott, azcentral, "Mesquite defeats Desert Edge to win its first 4A state championship," 7 Dec. 2019 On the Bears first possession, Dallas then ended its epic takeaway drought when Jourdan Lewis picked off Mitchell Trubisky just short of the end zone. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: As Dallas Cowboys' season unravels with loss to Chicago Bears, Jerry Jones needs to take blame," 6 Dec. 2019 Griffin’s layup on UConn’s final possession of the quarter gave the Huskies a 70-64 advantage going into the final frame. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "Aubrey Griffin scores 25 points to help lead UConn over tenacious Seton Hall in second-straight game without Crystal Dangerfield," 5 Dec. 2019 But Mervo responded behind Thomas and his driving layup and follow dunk on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter gave the home team the lead back at 38-36 with 3:07 to play. Glenn Graham, baltimoresun.com, "City opens with 71-66 overtime win over Mervo in boys basketball," 5 Dec. 2019 After Justin Holiday hit a corner 3-pointer, the Pacers kept the ball the following possession off an unsuccessful out-of-bounds call from Thunder coach Billy Donovan. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Pacers hold on late vs. Thunder to sweep season series," 5 Dec. 2019 After the Vikings’ next possession ended with a punt, Seattle added to its lead on Russell Wilson’s 60-yard TD strike to David Moore. Luke Olson, Twin Cities, "Vikings’ defense in Seattle loss isn’t all bad," 3 Dec. 2019 Bad tackling opened the door for a 33-yard Haskins run to start the final possession of the third quarter. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "How Ohio State’s defense, staggered at first against Michigan, came together: Buckeye Rewatch," 2 Dec. 2019 Key Play: Will Boler and Alex Wright’s combined sack of Fine on the Mean Green’s final possession. Evan Dudley, al, "Rewinding UAB’s 26-21 win over North Texas," 1 Dec. 2019

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

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession?src=search-dict-hed. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for possession


How to pronounce possession (audio)

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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Comments on possession

What made you want to look up possession? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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