possess

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

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

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Other Words from possess

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for possess

Synonyms

command, enjoy, have, hold, own, retain

Antonyms

lack, want

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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

For example, Gilly figured out the final clue about Jon and now possesses that knowledge as well. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "This Game of Thrones Theory Says Podrick's Song Predicts Arya's Death," 23 Apr. 2019 Proceed with extreme caution whether buying, selling, or simply possessing. Meredith Clark, Marie Claire, "Is CBD Even Legal Where You Live?," 12 Apr. 2019 Prosecutors said Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, possess and distribute marijuana and to money laundering. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Oregon man pleads guilty in marijuana trafficking case," 11 Apr. 2019 More than just a reflection, the twin was a physical being: dominating, horrifying, and possessing a mind entirely of her own. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Us Offers a Terrifying Vision of Judgement Day," 26 Mar. 2019 Despite possessing a vast amount of personal data on its customers, Amazon has come under fire for similar privacy blunders in the past. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Amazon sent 1,700 Alexa voice recordings to the wrong user following data request," 20 Dec. 2018 Despite not possessing the prototypical size of a powerful midfielder (such as teammate Paul Pogba), Kante is one of the most dominant players in the world at his position. Hayden Bird, BostonGlobe.com, "What to know about the World Cup title match," 14 July 2018 Current state law allows individuals with 16 specific conditions, including cancer, seizure disorders and Parkinson’s disease, to possess the drug. Sanya Mansoor, The Seattle Times, "Medical marijuana oil bill clears Georgia Senate," 29 Mar. 2019 The notorious playboy, who possessed boyish good looks and a proclivity for zooming around town in a Mustang Cobra, was a larger-than-life character who helped birth the rise of the celebrity hairstylist. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "This Hollywood Playboy Was L.A.’s First Celebrity Hairstylist," 24 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for possess

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for possess

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

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More Definitions for possess

possess

verb

English Language Learners Definition of possess

formal : to have or own (something)
: to have or show (a particular quality, ability, skill, etc.)
of spirits : to enter into and control (someone)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on possess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with possess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for possess

Spanish Central: Translation of possess

Nglish: Translation of possess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of possess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on possess

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