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

  • intransitive verb To grasp suddenly and forcibly; take or grab.
  • intransitive verb To take by force; capture or conquer.
  • intransitive verb To take quick and forcible possession of; confiscate.
  • intransitive verb To focus the attention or intellect on.
  • intransitive verb To make use of (an opportunity, for example).
  • intransitive verb To have a sudden overwhelming effect on.
  • intransitive verb To overwhelm physically.
  • intransitive verb Law To cause (someone) to be in possession of something.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To bind (a rope) to another, or to a spar, with turns of small line.
  • intransitive verb To lay sudden or forcible hold of something.
  • intransitive verb To cohere or fuse with another part as a result of high pressure or temperature and restrict or prevent further motion or flow.
  • intransitive verb To come to a halt.
  • intransitive verb To exhibit signs of seizure activity, often with convulsions.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To put in possession; make possessed; possess: commonly with of before the thing possessed: as, A. B. was seized and possessed of the manor; to seize one's self of an inheritance.
  • To take possession of
  • By virtue of a warrant or legal authority: as, to seize smuggled goods; to seize a ship after libeling.
  • By force, with or without right.
  • To lay sudden or forcible hold of; grasp; clutch: either literally or figuratively.
  • To come upon with sudden attack; have a sudden and powerful effect upon: as, a panic seized the crowd; a fever seized him.
  • To fasten; fix.
  • Nautical, to bind, lash, or make fast, as one thing to another, with several turns of small rope, cord, or small line; stop: as, to seize two fish-hooks back to back; to seize or stop one rope on to another.
  • Synonyms and To snatch, catch, capture, apprehend, arrest, take, attach.
  • To lay hold in seizure, as by hands or claws: with on or upon.
  • In metallurgy, to cohere.

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

  • transitive verb To fall or rush upon suddenly and lay hold of; to gripe or grasp suddenly; to reach and grasp.
  • transitive verb To take possession of by force.
  • transitive verb To invade suddenly; to take sudden hold of; to come upon suddenly.
  • transitive verb (law) To take possession of by virtue of a warrant or other legal authority.
  • transitive verb obsolete To fasten; to fix.
  • transitive verb To grap with the mind; to comprehend fully and distinctly.
  • transitive verb (Naut.) To bind or fasten together with a lashing of small stuff, as yarn or marline.
  • transitive verb to have possession, or right of possession
  • transitive verb to fall on and grasp; to take hold on; to take possession of suddenly and forcibly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive to deliberately take hold of; to grab or capture
  • verb transitive to take advantage of (an opportunity or circumstance)
  • verb transitive to take possession of (by force, law etc.)
  • verb transitive to have a sudden and powerful effect upon
  • verb transitive, nautical to bind, lash or make fast, with several turns of small rope, cord, or small line
  • verb transitive, obsolete to fasten, fix
  • verb intransitive to lay hold in seizure, by hands or claws (+ on or upon)
  • verb intransitive to have a seizure
  • verb intransitive to bind or lock in position immovably; see also seize up

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

  • verb take hold of; grab
  • verb take or capture by force


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

[Middle English seisen, from Old French seisir, to take possession, of Germanic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Earlier seise, from Middle English seisen, sesen, saisen, from Old French seisir 'take possession of; invest (person, court) (compare French saisir 'to seize; invest a court'), from Medieval Latin sacīre (8th century) 'to lay claim to, appropriate' in the phrase ad propriam sacire, from Low Frankish *sakian 'to sue, bring legal action', from Proto-Germanic *sakōnan (compare Old English sacian 'to strive, brawl'), from *sakanan (compare Old Saxon sakan 'to accuse', Old High German sahhan 'to bicker, quarrel, rebuke', Old English sacan 'to quarrel, claim by law, accuse'). See sake.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word seize.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.