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
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 Read more: Police said court records show Harris was arrested in 1988 in Detroit on several felonies, including second-degree murder, assault and firearms possession, and sentenced to prison in 1989. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Convicted murderer arrested in Oakland Co., charged for flashing lights on vehicle," 19 May 2020 The green and red bird gains possession, strides down the court (table) and dunks all over his grey and blue defender. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, "Larry Legends: Watch birds dunk and play defense," 19 May 2020 Oh, just some drug deals, gun possession, destruction of property, breaking and entering, multiple arsons, grand theft auto, and more — all while maintaining several different love triangles. Jean Bentley, refinery29.com, "Outer Banks Season 1 Binge Club Recap: Episodes 1-10," 16 Apr. 2020 The man was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Ray Sanchez And Elizabeth Joseph, CNN, "New York City mayor vows to release NYPD social distancing enforcement data," 6 May 2020 Foster had been arrested in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 12, 2018, and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Washington Redskins won’t pick up option on Reuben Foster’s contract," 30 Apr. 2020 The attorney for Massimo Fabbri, the Washington chef who was with felony possession of nearly a half-pound of cocaine, said Delaware prosecutors have agreed to drop all charges against his client as long as Fabbri fulfills a few conditions. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "Cocaine charges against D.C. chef are being dropped, attorney says," 23 Apr. 2020 As of the most recent seizures, two were allegedly charged with marijuana possession at the National Police headquarters, known by its Spanish acronym FAES. Fox News, "Members of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's team kidnapped, security forces claim they had coronavirus," 3 Apr. 2020 The store’s manager, Michael Correa, was charged with possession and sale of obscene material. George Gene Gustines, New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Kate Worley, a Pioneer Writer of Erotic Comics," 27 Mar. 2020

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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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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