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 Jail records indicate was booked into the lockup earlier this week and was being held on charges that include resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of a family violence protective order. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "East Alabama inmate steals police cruiser, crashes through gate in getaway attempt," 11 Feb. 2021 Caleb Nathaniel Oliver, 19, of Smiley was charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun — a conviction that holds up to 10 years in prison. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas teenager involved with the extremist group Iron Youth arrested on federal weapons charge," 9 Feb. 2021 Under current law, possession, manufacturing or delivery of hemp flower is banned. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "More than 75 bills are related to the environment this session. Here are ones we’re following.," 2 Feb. 2021 The teen was booked on counts of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and possession of a handgun by a juvenile. Michelle Hunter | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "17-year-old booked with murder in Terrytown shooting; victims identified in 2 other homicides," 27 Jan. 2021 Aguilar was sentenced to prison in April 2015 for charges that included assault with a deadly weapon with a street gang enhancement, possession of drugs for sale and assaulting a police officer or firefighter. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "One San Diego County inmate suspected of killing another in Northern California prison," 21 Jan. 2021 Eddings is charged with felony fleeing, reckless driving, possession of an instrument of a crime, first-degree criminal mischief, careless and prohibited driving, second-degree assault and use of another person’s property to facilitate a crime. Arkansas Democrat-gazette, Arkansas Online, "State trooper injured while pursuing suspect," 17 Jan. 2021 The uncertainty of the claim to possession of the house manifests itself in the mob’s ambivalence about whether to trash it. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, "Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal," 17 Jan. 2021 The suspect, James George, 41, of Antioch, was booked on one count of homicide, possession of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon and battery. Nora Mishanec, SFChronicle.com, "One man killed, another arrested after shooting in S.F.’s Tenderloin," 11 Jan. 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

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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