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 formspos·ses·sive·ly, adverbpos·ses·sive·ness, nounnon·pos·ses·sive, adjectivenon·pos·ses·sive·ly, adverbnon·pos·ses·sive·ness, nounun·pos·ses·sive, adjectiveun·pos·ses·sive·ly, adverbun·pos·ses·sive·ness, noun
Can be confusedpossessive possessory
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for possessive

Contemporary Examples of possessive

  • A jilted and possessive ex-lover who was jealous because Le was about to be married to another man?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Yale Killer Caught on Tape?

    Wendy Murphy

    September 14, 2009

Historical Examples of possessive

  • But he passed them by, for she was waiting for him and he was hungry for the possessive love of his slave.

    Life Sentence

    James McConnell

  • The possessive construction seems to me, however, to be preferable.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • The pronoun which, originally indeclinable, had no possessive.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • His eyes were an index of the man, bold and possessive and unwavering.

    The Highgrader

    William MacLeod Raine

  • They never used the "s" in indication of the possessive case.

    My Bondage and My Freedom

    Frederick Douglass

British Dictionary definitions for possessive



of or relating to possession or ownership
having or showing an excessive desire to possess, control, or dominatea possessive mother
  1. another word for genitive (def. 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 Formspossessively, adverbpossessiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for possessive

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

possessive in Culture


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.