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[uh b-ses] /əbˈsɛs/
verb (used with object)
to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally:
Suspicion obsessed him.
verb (used without object)
to think about something unceasingly or persistently; dwell obsessively upon something.
Origin of obsess
1495-1505; < Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidēre to occupy, frequent, besiege, equivalent to ob- ob- + -sid(ēre) combining form of sedēre to sit1
Related forms
obsessingly, adverb
obsessor, noun
Can be confused
abscess, obsess.
1. possess, control, haunt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for obsessing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And he colored painfully at the crudeness of his obsessing thoughts, angrily, after a moment, shaking them from him.

    Blue-Bird Weather Robert W. Chambers
  • He hoped by these occupations to free himself from his obsessing thoughts of Vera.

    The Precipice Ivan Goncharov
  • The truth was forced out of her when it was evident to me that something was obsessing her.

    The Nervous Housewife Abraham Myerson
  • The obsessing aim of many mothers is to "harden" their children.

    Feminism and Sex-Extinction Arabella Kenealy
  • All thought of the gale, all trouble of nerves, and whatever else it was that had been obsessing him all day, had passed from him.

British Dictionary definitions for obsessing


(transitive; when passive, foll by with or by) to preoccupy completely; haunt
(intransitive; usually foll by on or over) to worry neurotically or obsessively; brood
Word Origin
C16: from Latin obsessus besieged, past participle of obsidēre, from ob- in front of + sedēre to sit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for obsessing



c.1500, "to besiege," from Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidere "watch closely; besiege, occupy; stay, remain, abide" literally "sit opposite to," from ob "against" (see ob-) + sedere "sit" (see sedentary). Of evil spirits, "to haunt," from 1530s. Psychological sense is 20c. Related: Obsessed; obsessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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