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[puh-zes-iv] /pəˈzɛs ɪv/
jealously opposed to the personal independence of, or to any influence other than one's own upon, a child, spouse, etc.
desirous of possessing, especially excessively so:
Young children are so possessive they will not allow others to play with their toys; a possessive lover.
of or relating to possession or ownership.
  1. indicating possession, ownership, origin, etc. His in his book is a possessive adjective. His in The book is his is a possessive pronoun.
  2. noting or pertaining to a case that indicates possession, ownership, origin, etc., as, in English, John's in John's hat.
noun, Grammar.
the possessive case.
a form in the possessive.
Origin of possessive
From the Latin word possessīvus, dating back to 1520-30. See possess, -ive
Related forms
possessively, adverb
possessiveness, noun
nonpossessive, adjective
nonpossessively, adverb
nonpossessiveness, noun
unpossessive, adjective
unpossessively, adverb
unpossessiveness, noun
Can be confused
possessive, possessory. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for possessiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Of course, she was not for him—not with that possessiveness.

    The Search

    Grace Livingston Hill
  • He was overwhelmed by the possessiveness of the awful thing.

    At the Crossroads Harriet T. Comstock
  • Exaggerations of possessiveness in the individual are parallel and of a piece with the clutching greed of nations and emperors.

  • For effrontery of possessiveness is there anything that can exceed the nest-making, planet-populating, female, human woman?

  • Anger, defiance, pride and possessiveness supply the motives of their songs.

    Birds of the wave and woodland Phil (Philip Stewart) Robinson
  • In the few mad hours of their association they had come to belong to each other with a possessiveness that was beyond words.

  • Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness: the words "gain" and "profit" suggest this.

    The Pursuit of God A. W. Tozer
  • I had all the while been conscious of something abnormal in his attitude—a lack of ease in his gross possessiveness.

    Seven Men Max Beerbohm
British Dictionary definitions for possessiveness


of or relating to possession or ownership
having or showing an excessive desire to possess, control, or dominate: a possessive mother
  1. another word for genitive (sense 1)
  2. denoting an inflected form of a noun or pronoun used to convey the idea of possession, association, etc, as my or Harry's
  1. the possessive case
  2. a word or speech element in the possessive case
Derived Forms
possessively, adverb
possessiveness, noun
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 possessiveness



mid-15c. (grammatical, also as a noun); 1550s in general use, from Middle French possessif (15c.) "relating to possession, possessive," and directly from Latin possessivus, from possess-, past participle stem of possidere "to possess" (see possess). Related: Possessively; possessiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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possessiveness in Culture

possessive definition

The case of a noun or pronoun that shows possession. Nouns are usually made possessive by adding an apostrophe and s: “The bicycle is Sue's, not Mark's.” Possessive pronouns can take the place of possessive nouns: “The bicycle is hers, not his.” (See nominative case and objective case.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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