from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To have as property; own.
  • transitive v. To have as a quality, characteristic, or other attribute: possessed great tact.
  • transitive v. To acquire mastery of or have knowledge of: possess valuable data.
  • transitive v. To gain or exert influence or control over; dominate: Fury possessed me.
  • transitive v. To control or maintain (one's nature) in a particular condition: I possessed my temper despite the insult.
  • transitive v. To cause to own, hold, or master something, such as property or knowledge: She possessed herself of the unclaimed goods.
  • transitive v. To cause to be influenced or controlled, as by an idea or emotion: The thought of getting rich possessed him.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To gain or seize.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To have; to have ownership of.
  • v. To take control of someone's body or mind, especially in a supernatural manner.
  • v. To vest ownership in (someone); to give someone power or knowledge; to acquaint; to inform.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To occupy in person; to hold or actually have in one's own keeping; to have and to hold.
  • transitive v. To have the legal title to; to have a just right to; to be master of; to own; to have.
  • transitive v. To obtain occupation or possession of; to accomplish; to gain; to seize.
  • transitive v. To enter into and influence; to control the will of; to fill; to affect; -- said especially of evil spirits, passions, etc.
  • transitive v. To put in possession; to make the owner or holder of property, power, knowledge, etc.; to acquaint; to inform; -- followed by of or with before the thing possessed, and now commonly used reflexively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To own; have as a belonging, property, characteristic, or attribute.
  • To seize; take possession of; make one's self master of.
  • To put in possession; make master or owner, whether by force or legally: with of before the thing, and now generally used in the passive or reflexively: as, to possess one's self of another's secret; to be or stand possessed of a certain manor.
  • To have and hold; occupy in person; hence, to inhabit.
  • To occupy; keep; maintain; entertain: mostly with a reflexive reference.
  • To imbue; impress: with with before the thing.
  • To take possession of; fascinate; enthrall; affect or influence so intensely or thoroughly as to dominate or overpower: with with before the thing that fills or dominates.
  • To have complete power or mastery over; dominate; control, as an evil spirit, influence, or passion: generally in the passive, with by, of, or with.
  • To put in possession of information; inform; tell; acquaint; persuade; convince.
  • To attain; achieve; accomplish.
  • Synonyms Have, Possess, Hold, Own, Occupy. Have is the most general of these words; it may apply to a temporary or to a permanent possession of a thing, to the having of that which is one's own or another's: as, to have good judgment; to have another's letter by mistake. Possess generally applies to that which is external to the possessor, or, if not external, is viewed as something to be used: as, to possess a library; if we say a man possesses hands, we mean that he has them to work with; to possess reason is to have it with the thought of what can be done with it. To hold is to have in one's hands to control, not necessarily as one's own: as, to hold a fan or a dog for a lady; to hold a title-deed; to hold the stakes for a contest. To own is to have a good and legal title to; one may own that which he does not hold or occupy and cannot get into his possession, as a missing umbrella or a stolen horse. Occupy is chiefly physical: as, to occupy a house; one may occupy that which he does not own, as a chair, room, office, position.
  • Holding Corioli in the name of Rome.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. enter into and control, as of emotions or ideas
  • v. have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill
  • v. have ownership or possession of


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English possessen, from Old French possesser, from Latin possidēre, possess- : pos-, as master; see poti- in Indo-European roots + sedēre, to sit; see sed- in Indo-European roots.



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