Dictionary » P » Possess




(1) To occupy in person; to hold or actually have in one's own keeping; to have and to hold.
Examples: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jer. Xxxii. 15)
“Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power, After offense returning, to regain love once possessed.” (Milton)

(2) To have the legal title to; to have a just right to; to be master of; to own; to have; as, to possess property, an estate, a book.
Example: “I am yours, and all that I possess.” (Shak)

(3.) To obtain occupation or possession of; to accomplish; to gain; to seize.
Example: “How . . . To possess the purpose they desired.” (Spenser)

(4) To enter into and influence; to control the will of; to fill; to affect; said especially of evil spirits, passions, etc.
Examples: “Weakness possesseth me.”
“Those which were possessed with devils.” (Matt. Iv. 24)
“For ten inspired, ten thousand are possessed.” (Roscommon)

(5) To cause to be influenced or controlled, as by an idea or emotion.
Example: “Fury possessed me.”

(6) To cause to own, hold, or master something, like power, knowledge, property, etc.; followed by of or with before the thing possessed, and now commonly used reflexively.
Examples: “I have possessed your grace of what I purpose.” (Shak)
“Record a gift . . . Of all he dies possessed Unto his son.” (Shak)
“We possessed our selves of the kingdom of Naples.” (Addison)
“To possess our minds with an habitual good intention.” (Addison)

(7) To have as a quality, characteristic, or attribute.
Example: “possessed great tact”


Possess vs. Have: Have is the more general word. To possess denotes to have as a property. It usually implies more permanence or definiteness of control or ownership than is involved in having. For example, a man does not possess his wife and children: they are (so to speak) part of himself. For the same reason, we have the faculties of reason, understanding, will, sound judgment, etc., they are exercises of the mind, not possessions.

Word origin: L. Possessus, p. P. Of possidere to have, possess, from an inseparable prep. (cf. Position) _ sedere to sit.

Related forms: possesses (singular simple present), possessing (present participle), possessed (simple past and past participle).

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