seize

verb

seized; seizing

transitive verb

1
a
usually seise : 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
2
a
: to take possession of : confiscate
b
: to take possession of by legal process
3
a
: to possess or take by force : capture
b
: to take prisoner : arrest
4
a
: to take hold of : clutch
b
: to possess oneself of : grasp
c
: to understand fully and distinctly : apprehend
5
a
: to attack or overwhelm physically : afflict
seized with chest pains
b
: to possess (someone's thoughts, mind, etc.) completely or overwhelmingly
seized the popular imaginationBasil 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
2
a
: 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
seizer noun
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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard seized a semi-submersible vessel carrying seven tons of cocaine. Eric Tegler, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Related article Texas seized part of the US-Mexico border and blocked federal Border Patrol agents. Raja Razek, CNN, 16 Feb. 2024 Ahead of their film bowing in competition in Berlin, Iranian authorities back home seized the directors’ passports to prevent any travel and threatened a court case. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024 Trump seized on the Mar-a-Lago valuation, complaining about it frequently during public appearances, in social media posts, and in his own defense at trial. Graham Kates, CBS News, 16 Feb. 2024 Though winners deliver their long list of thank-yous to those who shaped them and presenters typically stick to reciting what's on the teleprompter, plenty of stars seize this opportunity to speak openly about pressing issues near to their hearts. Lydia Price, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 The Boise Police Department seized drug paraphernalia and electronics from the Idaho Harm Reduction Project’s offices this week as part of an ongoing investigation. Alex Brizee, Idaho Statesman, 15 Feb. 2024 Far-right, Eurosceptic parties are trying to seize onto that. Nayla Razzouk, Fortune Europe, 13 Feb. 2024 Israel seized Judea and Samaria in response to a self-defense war carried out by multiple Arab nations against the existence of the Jewish state in 1967. Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News, 4 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'seize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near seize

Cite this Entry

“Seize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seize. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

seize

verb
seized; seizing
1
: to take possession of by force
the wind seized the hat off my head
2
: to take prisoner : arrest
3
a
: to take hold of suddenly or with force : clutch
b
: to understand fully and clearly : comprehend
seize an idea quickly
4
: to attack or overwhelm suddenly (as with fever)
seizer noun

Legal Definition

seize

transitive verb
seized; seizing
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 debtJ. 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
seizable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on seize

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