Origin of possession

1300–50; Middle English < Latin possessiōn- (stem of possessiō) occupancy, act of occupying, equivalent to possess(us), past participle of possidēre to have in one's control, occupy (and, in active sense, past participle of posīdere to seize upon) (*pots-, akin to posse to be able + -sidēre, combining form of sedēre to sit1; cf. host1) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsnon·pos·ses·sion, noun

Synonyms for possession

Synonym study

1, 3. See custody.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for possession

Contemporary Examples of possession

Historical Examples of possession

  • He was a farmer's son, and seldom had any money in his possession.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Had they still been in his possession, that would have been some compensation.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • They fought each other for the possession of this wonderful land.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • On the invasion of William, as we have seen, it was in the possession of Edwin, sovereign of Deira.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • There are consciousnesses of lack which carry more bliss than any possession.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for possession



the act of possessing or state of being possessedin possession of the crown
anything that is owned or possessed
(plural) wealth or property
the state of being controlled or dominated by or as if by evil spirits
the physical control or occupancy of land, property, etc, whether or not accompanied by ownershipto take possession of a house
a territory subject to a foreign state or to a sovereign princecolonial possessions
sport control of the ball, puck, etc, as exercised by a player or teamhe lost possession in his own half
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

Word Origin and History for possession

mid-14c., "act or fact of possessing, a taking possession, occupation," also "thing possessed, that which is possessed," from Old French possession "fact of having and holding; what is possessed;" also "demonic possession," and directly from Latin possessionem (nominative possessio), noun of action from past participle stem of possidere "to possess" (see possess). Legal property sense is earliest; demonic sense first recorded 1580s. Phrase possession is nine (or eleven) points of the law is out of a supposed 10 (or 12). With eleven from 1640s; with nine from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper