ob·​ses·​sion äb-ˈse-shən How to pronounce obsession (audio)
: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling
broadly : compelling motivation
an obsession with profits
has an obsession with gambling
: something that causes an obsession
Losing weight can be an obsession that results in the avoidance of certain foods.
obsessional adjective
obsessionally adverb

Example Sentences

He was fascinated by the actress and tracking her every move had become an obsession. She has an obsession about cleanliness. Her concern about cleanliness approaches the level of obsession. Money has become an obsession for him.
Recent Examples on the Web But when a tragedy sends Dre reeling, her obsession with Ni’jah descends into something darker: a parasocial relationship that becomes inextricable from her bond with Marissa. Bethonie Butler, Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2023 The multiple Tony Award-wining tour-de-force uses witty, incisive lyrics and punchy music to examine America’s obsession with celebrity and firearms through the stories of the nation’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 17 Mar. 2023 Nina’s ceaseless obsession with perfection is exacerbated by her infantilizing mother and domineering director, sending her spiraling into crippling paranoia. Men's Health, 17 Mar. 2023 Streaming’s obsession with the best or nothing means that shows have impossible standards to live up to. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 16 Mar. 2023 Though the trend is most commonly associated with the ’80s jazzercise craze, its reappearance can be credited to Gen Z’s obsession with Y2K fashion. Sarah Maberry, ELLE, 16 Mar. 2023 If that sounds pretty far afield from pinball, there’s also a concurrent storyline about Mr. Sharpe’s obsession with the arcade game. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Mar. 2023 Many have said the buzz about the drug reflects the industry’s obsession with thinness. Sara Ashley O'brien, WSJ, 13 Mar. 2023 In a wide-ranging 230 pages, Quart challenges our nation’s obsession with self-reliance. Emi Nietfeld, The Atlantic, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obsession.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obsession was in 1680

Dictionary Entries Near obsession

Cite this Entry

“Obsession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsession. Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ob·​ses·​sion äb-ˈsesh-ən How to pronounce obsession (audio)
: a disturbing concern with an idea or feeling that cannot be put out of mind even when it is seen to be unreasonable
also : such a thought or feeling

Medical Definition


ob·​ses·​sion äb-ˈsesh-ən, əb- How to pronounce obsession (audio)
: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling
also : something that causes such preoccupation compare compulsion, phobia
obsessional adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on obsession

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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