possession

noun

pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio)
 also  -ˈse-
1
a
: the act of having or taking into control
b
: control or occupancy of property without regard to ownership
c
d
: control of the ball or puck
also : an instance of having such control (as in football)
scored on their first two possessions
2
: something owned, occupied, or controlled : property
3
a
: domination by something (such as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea)
b
: a psychological state in which an individual's normal personality is replaced by another
possessional
pə-ˈzesh-nəl How to pronounce possession (audio)
-ˈze-shə-nᵊl
 also  -ˈsesh-nəl
 or  -ˈse-shə-nᵊl
adjective
possessionless adjective

Example Sentences

The city can take possession of the abandoned buildings. She came into possession of a rare silver coin. The family lost all of its possessions in the fire. This ring was my mother's most precious possession. The defendant was charged with heroin possession.
Recent Examples on the Web The driver was released and told to find a valid driver to take possession of the car. cleveland, 27 Jan. 2023 The lawsuit will be settled with the city paying the Lodge in total the value of the building on the day the city took possession in 2020. Laurinda Joenks, Arkansas Online, 25 Jan. 2023 In his statement this week, Riney said the 19-story building was in good shape when the city took possession of the property in 2017 and blamed city officials for mishandling an upgrade. San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Jan. 2023 Agents last week took possession of an additional round of items with classified markings, and some of Biden’s handwritten notes and materials from his tenure as vice president and senator. Eric Tucker, Fortune, 24 Jan. 2023 Agents last week took possession of an additional round of items with classified markings, and some of Biden's handwritten notes and materials from his tenure as vice president and senator. Dallas News, 23 Jan. 2023 After being given full access to Biden's home - including personally handwritten notes, files, papers, and binders that covered decades of his work - the Justice Department took possession of six items. Tyler Pager, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Jan. 2023 Argueta, who lived in Virginia at the time, drove to her cousin’s residence, took possession of the winning ticket and mailed it into the New York State Lottery to claim the winnings, according to police. Isa Kaufman-geballe, CNN, 21 Jan. 2023 The Justice Department has searched President Biden's home in Delaware and located six documents containing classification markings and also took possession of some of his notes, the president's lawyer said Saturday. CBS News, 21 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near possession

Cite this Entry

“Possession.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possession. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

possession

noun
pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈzesh-ən How to pronounce possession (audio)
1
a
: the act of possessing or holding as one's own : ownership
b
: control of property without regard to ownership
2
a
: something held as one's own
b
: an area under the control of but not actually part of a nation
island possessions of the U.S.
3
: control by an idea or influence from outside oneself

Legal Definition

possession

noun
pos·​ses·​sion pə-ˈze-shən How to pronounce possession (audio)
1
: the act, fact, or condition of having control of something: as
a
: actual possession in this entry
b
: constructive possession in this entry
c
: knowing dominion and control over a controlled substance or other contraband
d
in the civil law of Louisiana : the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing
e
: control or occupancy of property
actual possession
: direct occupancy, use, or control of real property had actual possession of the land despite a lack of legal title
: direct physical custody, care, or control of property or contraband (as illegal drugs) actual possession is not necessary to sustain a convictionState v. Garrison, 896 S.W.2d 689 (1995)
adverse possession
: actual possession of another's real property that is open, hostile, exclusive, continuous, adverse to the claim of the owner, often under a claim of right or color of title, and that may give rise to title in the possessor if carried out for a specified statutory period (as ten years)
also : the method of acquiring title by such possession see also hostile possession and notorious possession in this entry compare prescription
civil possession
in the civil law of Louisiana : possession that exists by virtue of an intent to be the owner of a property even though one no longer occupies or has physical control of it
constructive possession
: possession that exists by virtue of a right (as by title) rather than direct occupancy or control
: the knowing ability and sometimes intent to exercise dominion and control over something (as illegal drugs) either directly or through others
hostile possession
: possession (as in adverse possession) that is antagonistic to the claims of all others (as a record owner) and that is carried out with the intention to possess the property exclusively
notorious possession
: possession (as in adverse possession) that is so conspicuous that it is generally known by people in the vicinity of the property and so gives rise to a presumption that the owner has notice of it
precarious possession
in the civil law of Louisiana : possession of property that is exercised by another (as a lessee) with the permission of or on behalf of the owner see also acquisitive prescription at prescription
2
: something controlled, occupied, or owned
personal possessions

More from Merriam-Webster on possession

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