\ˈsēz \
seized; seizing

Definition of seize 

transitive verb

1a usually seise \ˈsēz \ : to vest ownership of a freehold estate in

b often seise : to put in possession of something the biographer will be seized of all pertinent papers

2a : to take possession of : confiscate

b : to take possession of by legal process

3a : to possess or take by force : capture

b : to take prisoner : arrest

4a : to take hold of : clutch

b : to possess oneself of : grasp

c : to understand fully and distinctly : apprehend

5a : to attack or overwhelm physically : afflict seized with chest pains

b : to possess (someone's thoughts, mind, etc.) completely or overwhelmingly seized the popular imagination— Basil Davenport

6 : to bind or fasten together with a lashing of small stuff (such as yarn, marline, or fine wire)

intransitive verb

1 : to take or lay hold suddenly or forcibly

2a : to cohere to a relatively moving part through excessive pressure, temperature, or friction used especially of machine parts (such as bearings, brakes, or pistons)

b : to fail to operate due to the seizing of a part used of an engine

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Other Words from seize

seizer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for seize


bag, capture, catch, collar, cop [slang], corral, get, glom, grab, grapple, hook, land, nab, nail, net, rap, snag, snap (up), snare, snatch, trap



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Choose the Right Synonym for seize

take, seize, grasp, clutch, snatch, grab mean to get hold of by or as if by catching up with the hand. take is a general term applicable to any manner of getting something into one's possession or control. take some salad from the bowl seize implies a sudden and forcible movement in getting hold of something tangible or an apprehending of something fleeting or elusive when intangible. seized the suspect grasp stresses a laying hold so as to have firmly in possession. grasp the handle and pull clutch suggests avidity or anxiety in seizing or grasping and may imply less success in holding. clutching her purse snatch suggests more suddenness or quickness but less force than seize. snatched a doughnut and ran grab implies more roughness or rudeness than snatch. grabbed roughly by the arm

Examples of seize in a Sentence

The bank seized their property. The army has seized control of the city. A rebel group attempted to seize power. He suddenly seized the lead in the final lap of the race. He seized her by the arm. He tried to seize the gun from him. She was seized by kidnappers and carried off to a hidden location. He seized the chance to present his ideas to his boss. Seizing the moment, she introduced herself to the famous film director.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Law enforcement officials seized years’ worth of Watkins’s phone and email records in their investigation of Wolfe. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, "U.S. opposes gag order for Trump sought by Senate intelligence aide in leak probe case," 12 July 2018 The blustery Nikita Khrushchev seized on the incident to scuttle a summit meeting with President Dwight Eisenhower and turn the Cold War even colder. Edward Kosner, WSJ, "‘A Brotherhood of Spies’ and ‘Above and Beyond’ Review: When Spies Took to the Skies," 12 July 2018 Police also seized three cellphones, $2,000 cash and a Ford Explorer from the residence. Ruth Bruno,, "Norwich Police Arrest 3 In Drug Bust," 12 July 2018 Investigators seized about 11 pounds of fentanyl from 28-year-old Antonio Rivera, a Lawrence resident, and 24-year-old Deuris Sierra, a Dominican national mostly residing in Lawrence, the Boston US attorney’s office said in a statement. Katie Camero,, "Two men charged with fentanyl conspiracy," 11 July 2018 The rebels seized control of the crossing in 2015, severing a lifeline for Syrian exports and disrupting a trade route between Syria and Jordan, Lebanon and the oil-rich Gulf countries. Albert Aji, Fox News, "Syrian troops celebrate recapture of border crossing," 7 July 2018 Males in the cloud seize any female that wanders inside. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Only female mosquitoes bother us (and other facts about the insects Alaskans love to hate)," 7 July 2018 During Thames’ absence, Jesús Aguilar seized control of first base and carried the offense on his broad shoulders for long periods of time. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Brewers' depth has been huge in overcoming series of injuries this season," 6 July 2018 Following Mexico's defeat to Sweden on Wednesday, CBP officers in El Paso seized four shipments of phony Mexican national team soccer jerseys on Thursday, according to a press release. Alex Park, Houston Chronicle, "CBP seizes hundreds of counterfeit World Cup soccer jerseys," 2 July 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for seize

Middle English saisen, from Anglo-French seisir, from Medieval Latin sacire, of Germanic origin; perhaps akin to Old High German sezzen to set — more at set

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Statistics for seize

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for seize

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

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More Definitions for seize



English Language Learners Definition of seize

: to use legal or official power to take (something)

: to get or take (something) in a forceful, sudden, or violent way

: to attack and take control of (a place) by force or violence


\ˈsēz \
seized; seizing

Kids Definition of seize

1 : to take possession of by or as if by force Invaders seized the castle. He seized the lead.

2 : to take hold of suddenly or with force … Balin was just in time to seize the boat before it floated off …— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

3 : to take or use eagerly or quickly She seized the opportunity to go.

seized; seizing

Legal Definition of seize 

1 or seise : to put in possession of property or vest with the right of possession or succession stand seized of land

2 : to take possession or custody of (property) especially by lawful authority seize drugs as evidence the entry of a preliminary order of forfeiture authorizes the Attorney General…to seize the specific property subject to forfeitureFederal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 32.2(b)(3) can seize the goods subject to his security interest and…keep them in satisfaction of the debt— J. J. White and R. S. Summers — compare foreclose, repossess

3 : to detain (a person) in such circumstances as would lead a reasonable person to believe that he or she was not free to leave determined that the defendant was seized when surrounded by police officers

Other Words from seize

seizable adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on seize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for seize

Spanish Central: Translation of seize

Nglish: Translation of seize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of seize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on seize

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