from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To have as property; own.
  • transitive verb Law To have under one's power or control.
  • transitive verb To have as a quality, characteristic, or other attribute.
  • transitive verb To have mastery or knowledge of.
  • transitive verb To gain control or power over. Used of a demon or spirit.
  • transitive verb To occupy fully the mind or feelings of.
  • transitive verb Often Offensive To have sexual intercourse with (a woman).
  • transitive verb Archaic To control or maintain (one's nature) in a particular condition.
  • transitive verb Archaic To cause (oneself) to own, hold, or master something, such as property or knowledge.
  • transitive verb Archaic To gain or seize.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To occupy in person; to hold or actually have in one's own keeping; to have and to hold.
  • transitive verb To have the legal title to; to have a just right to; to be master of; to own; to have.
  • transitive verb To obtain occupation or possession of; to accomplish; to gain; to seize.
  • transitive verb To enter into and influence; to control the will of; to fill; to affect; -- said especially of evil spirits, passions, etc.
  • transitive verb 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • verb enter into and control, as of emotions or ideas
  • verb have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill
  • verb 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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