pre·​pos·​sess·​ing ˌprē-pə-ˈze-siŋ How to pronounce prepossessing (audio)
archaic : creating prejudice
: tending to create a favorable impression : attractive

Did you know?

If you've heard of the word unprepossessing, it probably comes as no surprise to you that there's also a prepossessing. You may not know, however, that both derive from the verb prepossess, which is also still used in English, although it's quite rare. When prepossess first appeared in print in English in the early 17th century it meant "to take previous possession of," but that sense is now obsolete. The adjective prepossessing came into use later in that century and is based on a later sense, "to influence favorably beforehand." Someone or something that is prepossessing, therefore, makes a good first impression.

Examples of prepossessing in a Sentence

She lives in one of the least prepossessing parts of the city.
Recent Examples on the Web The novel is a coming-of-age tale in which becoming an adult is defined as learning how to lie, how to smooth facts, events, even oneself into a more prepossessing form. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 17 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prepossessing.' 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

1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prepossessing was in 1642


Dictionary Entries Near prepossessing

Cite this Entry

“Prepossessing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: creating a good impression : attractive
a prepossessing appearance

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