possess

verb
pos·​sess | \ pə-ˈzes How to pronounce possess (audio) also -ˈses How to pronounce possess (audio) \
possessed; possessing; possesses

Essential Meaning of possess

1 formal : to have or own (something) nations that possess nuclear weapons The defendant was charged with possessing cocaine. See More ExamplesThe ruby was once possessed by an ancient queen. He dreams of someday possessing great wealth.Hide
2 : to have or show (a particular quality, ability, skill, etc.) He possesses a keen wit. The drug possesses the potential to suppress tumors. Do dolphins possess the ability to use language?
3 of spirits : to enter into and control (someone)

Full Definition of possess

transitive verb

1a : to have and hold as property : own
b : to have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill
2a : to seize and take control of : take into one's possession
b : to enter into and control firmly : dominate was possessed by demons
c : to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction melancholy possesses her
3a obsolete : to instate as owner
b : to make the owner or holder used in passive construction to indicate simple possession possessed of richespossessed of knowledge and experience

Other Words from possess

possessor \ pə-​ˈze-​sər How to pronounce possess (audio) also  -​ˈse-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for possess

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Examples of possess in a Sentence

What would possess seemingly sane people to treat concrete walls like trampolines? — Alice Park, Time, 16 Apr. 2007 People who experience specific colors when looking at particular letters, such as seeing sky blue when shown an R, possess an unusual abundance of connections in brain areas involved in word and color perception, a new brain-imaging investigation finds. — Bruce Bower, Science News, 26 May 2007 What does matter is that we come to recognize that playfulness, as a philosophical stance, can be very serious, indeed; and, moreover, that it possesses an unfailing capacity to arouse ridicule and hostility in those among us who crave certainty, reverence, and restraint. — Tom Robbins, Harper's, September 2004 nations that possess nuclear weapons The defendant was charged with possessing cocaine. The ruby was once possessed by an ancient queen. He dreams of someday possessing great wealth. He possesses a keen wit. The drug possesses the potential to suppress tumors. Do dolphins possess the ability to use language?
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Recent Examples on the Web His relatives later noted that As’ad did not have his U.S. passport with him and did not possess a local ID card, which soldiers invariably ask to see at the start of any encounter. Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2022 Companies can maximize the skills their workforces already possess by appointing a team of specialists from different departments to tackle ESG. Stella Bernstein, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 Scouts had told him that, despite being solid in many facets, Weatherspoon didn’t possess an NBA skill — the type of singular ability that could command minutes on the floor. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Dec. 2021 Second, decarbonizing a business is challenging, and requires real expertise that many investors do not yet possess. Mark Wiseman, Fortune, 10 Dec. 2021 Hubbard must not travel to Washington, D.C., except for court purposes, must not possess or be around any weapons and must check in weekly with his pretrial services officer, the judge ordered. oregonlive, 8 Dec. 2021 He was also ordered by a judge to have no contact with Evans following his release, and not possess any weapons or firearms. Vanessa Etienne, PEOPLE.com, 29 Nov. 2021 Minnesota doesn’t possess the ball to that degree, but Browns fans likely remember the 7:34 drive to open their Week 4 contest. Dan Labbe, cleveland, 28 Nov. 2021 Simply, Calzada throws fastballs and doesn’t really possess a change-up on shorter passes. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Nov. 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for possess

Middle English, from Middle French possesser to have possession of, take possession of, from Latin possessus, past participle of possidēre, from potis able, having the power + sedēre to sit — more at potent, sit

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Time Traveler for possess

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near possess

possentrie

possess

possessable

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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

28 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Possess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possess. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for possess

possess

verb
pos·​sess | \ pə-ˈzes How to pronounce possess (audio) \
possessed; possessing

Kids Definition of possess

1 : to have and hold as property : own I possess little money.
2 : to have as a characteristic or quality The black wolf also possessed wisdom, she had observed.— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves
3 : to enter into and control possessed by a demon What possessed you to say that?

Other Words from possess

possessor \ -​ər \ noun

possess

transitive verb
pos·​sess | \ pə-ˈzes How to pronounce possess (audio) \

Legal Definition of possess

: to have possession of

More from Merriam-Webster on possess

Nglish: Translation of possess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of possess for Arabic Speakers

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