verb \ˈsēz\

Definition of seize




  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a usually seiseplay \ˈsēz\ :  to vest ownership of a freehold estate inb often seise :  to put in possession of something the biographer will be seized of all pertinent papers

  3. 2a :  to take possession of :  confiscateb :  to take possession of by legal process

  4. 3a :  to possess or take by force :  captureb :  to take prisoner :  arrest

  5. 4a :  to take hold of :  clutchb :  to possess oneself of :  graspc :  to understand fully and distinctly :  apprehend

  6. 5a :  to attack or overwhelm physically :  afflict seized with chest painsb :  to possess (someone's thoughts, mind, etc.) completely or overwhelmingly seized the popular imagination — Basil Davenport

  7. 6 :  to bind or fasten together with a lashing of small stuff (such as yarn, marline, or fine wire)

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 :  to take or lay hold suddenly or forcibly

  10. 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



Examples of seize in a Sentence

  1. The bank seized their property.

  2. The army has seized control of the city.

  3. A rebel group attempted to seize power.

  4. He suddenly seized the lead in the final lap of the race.

  5. He seized her by the arm.

  6. He tried to seize the gun from him.

  7. She was seized by kidnappers and carried off to a hidden location.

  8. He seized the chance to present his ideas to his boss.

  9. Seizing the moment, she introduced herself to the famous film director.

Recent Examples of seize from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SEIZE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of seize for English Language Learners

  • : 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

SEIZE Defined for Kids


verb \ˈsēz\

Definition of seize for Students




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

  2. 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. 3 :  to take or use eagerly or quickly She seized the opportunity to go.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

Legal Definition of seize



  1. 1 or


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

  2. 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 forfeiture — Federal 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. 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



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