- 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.
- (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
Examples from the Web for possess
As a white, educated, Western, middle-class male, I possess most of the unearned privilege the world has to offer.In 2015, Let’s Try for More Compassion
January 4, 2015
That thing we seemed to possess was not the other, but an image of them we formed—they themselves are still free.
I know that many people do not feel they possess their partners and lovers.
The Fish and Wildlife officer told him that it was illegal to possess a protected species or a raptor.He Faces Jail for Rescuing Baby Eagles
November 2, 2014
We attribute his successes or failures to the presence or lack of some special sauce that he does or does not possess.The Dems’ Midterm Performance Anxiety
October 31, 2014
The misfortune was that this was the only thing they cared to possess.Malbone
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
In painting, we believe we possess a school second to none of modern art.
If our whole horizon of truth were not broadened, we could not possess this command.The Conquest of Fear
There are some papers and some money I must possess myself of.The Imaginary Invalid
It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die.De Profundis
- 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 and History for possess
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.