possession

noun

pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio)
 also  -ˈse-
1
a
: the act of having or taking into control
b
: control or occupancy of property without regard to ownership
c
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
3
a
: 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
possessional
pə-ˈzesh-nəl How to pronounce possession (audio)
-ˈze-shə-nᵊl
 also  -ˈsesh-nəl
 or  -ˈse-shə-nᵊl
adjective
possessionless adjective

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Bledsoe was out of bond in a felony possession of cocaine case. The Enquirer, 29 Feb. 2024 The Cardinal needs one more win to clinch sole possession of first place, while the Beavers are at risk of dropping out of the top four and playing in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. Jeff Metcalfe, The Mercury News, 28 Feb. 2024 She was charged with having the handgun, as well as the possession of the drugs. The Indianapolis Star, 28 Feb. 2024 But some Arizona cities prohibit the possession of brass knuckles. Miguel Torres, The Arizona Republic, 28 Feb. 2024 In 2022, professional basketball player Brittney Griner was detained for 10 months, then traded for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the U.S. Griner was in Russia for a tournament when authorities arrested her on charges of being in possession of vape cartridges with cannabis. Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2024 DiVincenzo then gained possession and almost cost New York the game by throwing the ball directly into the path of Thompson. Sam Joseph, CNN, 27 Feb. 2024 Arsenal dominated possession and just about every other element of Saturday’s clash at Burnley. Joseph O'Sullivan, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 Kizer – who at 17 was charged with the murder case as an adult, per The Post – was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, arson, possession of a firearm by a felon and bail jumping, per the appeals documents. Emily Palmer, Peoplemag, 17 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'possession.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near possession

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

possession

noun
pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈzesh-ən How to pronounce possession (audio)
1
a
: the act of possessing or holding as one's own : ownership
b
: control of property without regard to ownership
2
a
: something held as one's own
b
: an area under the control of but not actually part of a nation
island possessions of the U.S.
3
: control by an idea or influence from outside oneself

Legal Definition

possession

noun
pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio)
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
: direct occupancy, use, or control of real property had actual possession of the land despite a lack of legal title
: 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
: possession that exists by virtue of a right (as by title) rather than direct occupancy or control
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on possession

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