Definition of ‘possess’
, present participle possessing
, past tense, past participle possessed
Video: pronunciation of ‘possess’
possess in British
C15: from Old French possesser, from Latin possidēre to own, occupy; related to Latin sedēre to sit
possess in American
usually with of
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
LME < MFr possessier < L possessus, pp. of possidere, to possess < pos-, contr. < potis, able (see potent ) + sedere, to sit
Example sentences containing ‘possess’
These examples have been automatically selected and may contain sensitive content.
time, but have unintentionally lost . Times, Sunday Times (2009)
Trends of ‘possess’
Very Common. possess is one of the 4000 most commonly used words in the Collins dictionary
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Translations for ‘possess’
- American English: possess
- Arabic: يـَمْتَلِك
- Brazilian Portuguese: possuir
- Chinese: 占有
- Croatian: posjedovati
- Czech: vlastnit
- Danish: besidde
- Dutch: bezitten
- European Spanish: poseer
- Finnish: omistaa
- French: posséder
- German: besitzen
- Greek: κατέχω
- Italian: possedere
- Japanese: 所有する
- Korean: 소유하다
- Norwegian: være i besittelse av
- Polish: posiąść
- European Portuguese: possuir
- Romanian: a deține
- Russian: обладать
- Spanish: poseer
- Swedish: besitta
- Thai: เป็นเจ้าของ
- Turkish: sahip olmak
- Ukrainian: володіти
- Vietnamese: sở hữu
Nearby words of ‘possess’
- posse comitatus
- possessed of
All ENGLISH words that begin with ‘P’
Collins English Dictionary
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See more synonyms for possess on Thesaurus.com
- to have as belonging to one; have as property; own: to possess a house and a car.
- to have as a faculty, quality, or the like: to possess courage.
- (of a spirit, especially an evil one) to occupy, dominate, or control (a person) from within: He thought he was possessed by devils.
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- (of a feeling, idea, etc.) to dominate or actuate in the manner of such a spirit: He was possessed by envy.
- (of a man) to succeed in having sexual intercourse with.
- to have knowledge of: to possess a language.
- to keep or maintain (oneself, one’s mind, etc.) in a certain state, as of peace, patience, etc.
- to maintain control over (oneself, one’s mind, etc.).
- to impart to; inform; familiarize (often followed by of or with): to possess someone of the facts of the case.
- to cause to be dominated or influenced, as by an idea, feeling, etc.
- to make (someone) owner, holder, or master, as of property, information, etc.: He possessed them of the facts.
- to seize or take.
- to gain or win.
- to occupy or hold.
Origin of possess
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Related Words for possesses
enjoy , own , seize , acquire , occupy , maintain , carry , retain , control , hog , dominate , bear , corner , grab , hold
Examples from the Web for possesses
Contemporary Examples of possesses
The sharply tailored blazer and weighty jewelry that cling to her body hints at the dominant personality she possesses.Whip It: Secrets of a Dominatrix
November 25, 2014
It possesses the power to both humanize and demonize minority groups.Why Muslims Hate Terrorism More
August 12, 2014
ISIS forces had come so close to Erbil that the city was in range of the Howitzer artillery cannons that ISIS possesses.McCain Calls Obama's 'Pinprick' Iraq Strikes 'Meaningless' and 'Almost Worse Than Nothing'
August 8, 2014
In short, jazz now possesses a prestige unprecedented in its long history.Jazz (The Music of Coffee and Donuts) Has Respect, But It Needs Love
June 15, 2014
Like all top-drawer authors, García Márquez possesses magnificent authority.García Márquez Showed Us How Great Fiction Could Be
April 18, 2014
Historical Examples of possesses
All these are manifestly characteristics of Hamlet, and Posthumus possesses no others.The Man Shakespeare
It is only when one has lost all things, that one knows that one possesses it.De Profundis
He too possesses those weapons, but he cannot use them with so great effect.Camps, Quarters and Casual Places
Moreover, can you call a nation poor, when it possesses Lombardy?The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
The United States of Colombia possesses less than 250 miles of road.The Railroad Question
- to have as one’s property; own
- to have as a quality, faculty, characteristic, etcto possess good eyesight
- to have knowledge or mastery ofto possess a little French
- to gain control over or dominatewhatever possessed you to act so foolishly?
- (foll by of) to cause to be the owner or possessorI am possessed of the necessary information
- (often foll by with) to cause to be influenced or dominated (by)the news possessed him with anger
- to have sexual intercourse with
- rare to keep control over or maintain (oneself or one’s feelings) in a certain state or conditionpossess yourself in patience until I tell you the news
- archaic to gain or seize
Word Origin for possess
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
late 14c., “to hold, occupy, reside in” (without regard to ownership), a back formation from possession and in part from Old French possesser “to have and hold, take, be in possession of” (mid-13c.), from Latin possess-, past participle stem of possidere “to have and hold, possess, be master of, own,” from posse “to be able,” from potis “able, powerful” (see potent ) + esse “to be” (see be ). Meaning “to hold as property” is recorded from c.1500. Demonic sense is recorded from 1530s (implied in possessed). Related: Possessed ; possessing.
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Nearby words for possesses
- posse comitatus
- possessed by
- possessed, the
- possession is nine points of the law
Home British & World English possess
1Have as belonging to one; own.‘I do not possess a television set’
own, have, be the owner of, have in one’s possession, be in possession of, be the possessor of, have to one’s name, hold
- ‘They were bidding everything they had, fortunes, homes, businesses, tools, their futures on possessing a prized bulb that might break.’
- ‘Leaders have to go with the actual knowledge they possess at the time.’
- ‘When TV Licensing officials call round, householders often claim they do not possess a television.’
- ‘This healthy attitude derives from belonging to the Dutch Antilles and possessing the sixth biggest natural harbour in the world.’
- ‘In some regions, one often came across innocent women branded as witches and lynched by villagers who wanted to possess the land and property belonging to the victims.’
- ‘It is a temporary metropolis of tents, possessing every luxury, including generators, refrigerators, and (as far as I can understand) electric blankets.’
- ‘Civil rights are the basic legal rights a person must possess in order to have such a status.’
- ‘In the North, 34.5% own credit and charge cards with 53% possessing a cash dispenser card.’
- ‘It, through the licensing authority, imposes a tax on anyone who possesses a television set but provides a varying range of services depending on where you live.’
- ‘The company already lays claim to possessing the largest home delivery network in the world and the only one as yet to make a profit.’
- ‘But if the enemy possesses chemical, radiological, bacteriological, or nuclear weapons, they need succeed only once.’
- ‘The world is brimming with countries that possess chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.’
- ‘Regardless, all their lives, the duke and duchess had to deny that they possessed any jewels belonging to the royal family.’
- ‘I suspect that pressure has been put on prisoners possessing intelligence information in every war, and I think what should also keep in mind who these people might have been.’
- ‘For travellers looking to venture off the beaten path, Wu Zhen, a water town possessing a cultural heritage of 1,000 years in north Zhejiang Province, is the place to go.’
- 1.1Law Have possession of as distinct from ownership.‘a two-year suspended sentence for possessing cocaine’
- ‘But all of that is subject to the statutory defence (the burden of proof of which lies on the appellant) that he possessed them for a legitimate purpose.’
- ‘He had pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis and cocaine.’
- ‘The appellant pleaded guilty to an offence of possessing a prohibited weapon.’
- ‘Shortly after the order was issued, he was indicted by a federal grand jury for possessing a firearm in violation of the statute.’
- ‘He pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and was conditionally discharged for two years.’
- 1.2 Have as an ability, quality, or characteristic.‘he did not possess a sense of humour’‘a fading blonde possessed of a powerful soprano voice’
have, be blessed with, be endowed with, be gifted with, be possessed of, be born with
- ‘We do not possess more strength than other people.’
- ‘Seldom does one individual possess all the talents required to meet each of these challenges.’
- ‘Both characters possess qualities considered essential to the Hindu lifestyle, and have become role models for Hindus of both sexes.’
- ‘All states are more or less exceptional, in the sense that they possess unique characteristics.’
- ‘She was in her 80s and a person of impeccable character, who possessed many fine qualities, many of these endeared her to all who knew her.’
- ‘‘Neither my wife nor I believe he should be criticised or penalised for possessing those qualities,’ he said.’
- ‘Although different students possess varying degrees of expertise as writers, most will have something to contribute to such discussions.’
- ‘He still possesses all the traits that made him great in the first place.’
- ‘Females are smaller, but both male and female are tremendously powerful, possessing the ability to tear branches from bushes and uproot small trees.’
- ‘The story is narrated by the chieftain’s second son, widely regarded as an ‘idiot’ but possessing both wisdom and cunning.’
- ‘He also possesses the ability to communicate with insects and order them to do his bidding.’
- ‘He said potential members of the police and military had to meet certain requirements, such as being in good physical health and possessing a certain level of IQ.’
- ‘I’m interested, but not entirely surprised, to find that green tea, which I never drink, possesses the same quality as other forms of tea.’
- ‘Essential oils have the potential to act as antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents, as well as possessing the ability to alter body chemistry and therapeutic responses.’
- ‘Major publishers are seeking authors who already possess the basic writing skills.’
- ‘Luckily, it isn’t long before he learns that a family amulet, passed down from his father, is actually a powerful gem that possesses the ability of time travel.’
- ‘We look for the individual who possesses the ability to perform safely and effectively under stressful conditions.’
- ‘We may be inexperienced but naivety is not a characteristic we possess in abundance.’
- ‘Furthermore, characters who possess the supernatural qualities of deities are considered to be human.’
- ‘You know the scenario: girl meets boy, boy has major fault in character, girl possesses necessary qualities to remedy major fault, boy recognises error of his ways, all ends well.’
- 1.3possess oneself ofarchaic Take for one’s own.‘all that the plaintiffs did was to possess themselves of the securities’
acquire, obtain, get, get hold of, procure, secure, take, seize, gain possession of, take possession of, get one’s hands on
- ‘He starts his remarks by hoping: ‘A more progressive generation of ornithologists will no doubt possess itself of higher standards for estimating the value of sub-species.’’
- ‘If we possess ourselves of this, we have at once a standpoint for the wider survey.’
- ‘But the Danish Viking relinquished his hold upon Bernicia and, moving south in the following year, possessed himself of the kingdom of York.’
- ‘He asked in a refined manner, though he possessed himself of my arm and seized me by the wrist, twisting me from the ground.’
- ‘Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.’
2(of a demon or spirit, especially an evil one) have complete power over (someone) and be manifested through their speech or actions.‘she was possessed by the Devil’
take control of, have power over, take over, have mastery over, cast a spell over, bewitch, enchant, enthral, control, dominate, influencemad, demented, insane, crazed, maddened, berserk, out of one’s mind
- ‘Her family thought she was possessed by evil spirits and buried her alive.’
- ‘He thought he was possessed by spirits and that he was going to kill his own family.’
- ‘But there is simply no credible evidence to suggest the boy was possessed by demons or evil spirits.’
- ‘Stepping into the clearing, the demon was almost passable for a human, and should have been, for he was possessing a corpse.’
- ‘Jane’s belief that she was possessed by spirits had its origin in a session with a Ouija board when it began to glide under her fingers and spell out messages from the Great Beyond.’
- ‘A small boy is ostracized from his village, where they claim an evil spirit possesses him.’
- ‘One young woman describes the pleasure of the trance she enters when possessed by the Holy Ghost.’
- ‘Can a pharmacist refuse to fill a prescription because he or she believes the client is possessed by demons?’
- ‘He tells us that he has met many people who have been possessed by demons, the most scary being a man who started to talk to him in a demon’s voice.’
- ‘Epileptics were supposedly possessed by spirits that threw them to the ground and tormented them with convulsions.’
- ‘One might as well tell the patient she is possessed by demons, as give her a psychoanalytic explanation of her physical disease or disorder.’
- ‘The white made him look as if he were possessed by some demon.’
- ‘The dragon’s spirit possessed this evil man’s body, and morphed it into a vision similar to how his carcass looked when it was living, breathing.’
- ‘The misconceptions include black magic, witchcraft, evil eye and being possessed by a spirit.’
- ‘Once possessed by their celebrity demons, they become solitary, anti-social, impulsive and even self-destructive.’
- ‘It looked like it was dying but was kept alive only by the will of the demons possessing its mother.’
- ‘Lara said that demons don’t possess people for long periods of time.’
- ‘They have given rise to a deadly Dark Prince, whose spirit gradually possesses him…’
- ‘Michelle was staring at her with her mouth hanging open, ‘What demon ever possessed you to do such a thing?’’
- ‘He’s been possessed by spirits of the dead on numerous occasions.’
- 2.1 (of an emotion, idea, etc.) dominate the mind of.‘I was possessed by a desire to tell her everything’
obsess, dominate, haunt, preoccupy, consume
- ‘While the words ‘vegetarian’ and ‘haggis’ have never been made to rhyme the idea possesses me with a burning curiosity.’
- ‘Even the makers of commercial films appear to be possessed by this idea.’
- ‘A feeling of loneliness possessed my whole being.’
- ‘He charged down the sidewalk not slowing down; a spirit of determination and passion possessed his body sending it charging in the nearest phone booth.’
- ‘These thoughts possessed her mind as she slipped out of the Great Hall quietly and unnoticed.’
- ‘He got into the face of men who were killing innocent people in whatever frenzied state of mind possessed them.’
- ‘He was always possessed by the idea that they would get at him if they could, you know, they would poison the fillings in his teeth, so paranoia stemmed out very easily from him.’
- ‘This anxious state of mind was what possessed me as I biked towards the river.’
- ‘The prosecution is urged to go on a fast to purge itself of whatever bad thoughts possessed it to even bring this one to trial.’
- ‘However it got there, the idea possessed her consciousness.’
- ‘Her chest heaved, as the fear still possessed her mind in its clutches as well as the guilt.’
- ‘For some it’s love, others jealousy, others the need of power, others wonder, and finally there are those who’s greed finally possesses them to kill themselves.’
- ‘Yet, he also understood the fear possessing Indira.’
3literary (of a man) have sexual intercourse with.‘he just wanted her, to possess her’
4archaic Maintain (oneself or one’s mind or soul) in a state of patience or quiet.‘I tried to possess my soul in patience’
- ‘Do I ‘approve myself in all things as a minister of God; in much patience possessing my own soul,’ and having the government of my own spirit?’
- ‘He confessed that “I have possessed myself in patience, but I’m fast getting too old to have any future of importance in the Army.”’
- ‘In order to freely possess oneself in such a system one must be free of dependence on the will of others.’
what possessed you?
Used to express surprise at an action regarded as extremely unwise.‘what possessed you to come here?’
- ‘Which brings me back to that question: “What possessed you to do that to your hair?”’
- ‘What possessed you to take this test? I mean, seriously…’
- ‘What possessed you to train for a marathon at the North Pole, one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth?’
Late Middle English: from Old French possesser, from Latin possess- ‘occupied, held’, from the verb possidere, from potis ‘able, capable’ + sedere ‘sit’.
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