What does possess mean?

Definitions for possess

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word possess.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. possessverb

    have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill

    "he possesses great knowledge about the Middle East"

  2. own, have, possessverb

    have ownership or possession of

    "He owns three houses in Florida"; "How many cars does she have?"

  3. possessverb

    enter into and control, as of emotions or ideas

    "What possessed you to buy this house?"; "A terrible rage possessed her"


  1. possessverb

    To have; to have ownership of.

    He does not even possess a working telephone.

  2. possessverb

    To take control of someone's body or mind, especially in a supernatural manner.

    They thought he was possessed by evil spirits.

  3. possessverb

    To occupy.

  4. possessverb

    To vest ownership in (someone) with ownership.

  5. Etymology: * From possessus, past participle of possīdeō.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To POSSESSverb

    Etymology: possessus, Lat. posseder, Fr.

    She will not let instructions enter
    Where folly now possesses? William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    Record a gift,
    Here in the court, of all he dies possess’d,
    Unto his son. William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.

    Sundry more gentlemen this little hundred possesseth and possessioneth. Richard Carew, Survey of Cornwall.

    The English marched towards the river Eske, intending to possess a hill called Under-Eske. John Hayward.

    Is he yet possest,
    How much you would?
    —— Ay, ay, three thousand ducats. William Shakespeare.

    This man, whom hand to hand I slew in fight,
    May be possessed with some store of crowns. William Shakespeare.

    This possesses us of the most valuable blessing of human life, friendship. Government of the Tongue.

    Seem I to thee sufficiently possess’d
    Of happiness or not, who am alone
    From all eternity? John Milton, Par. Lost, b. viii.

    I hope to possess chymists and corpuscularians of the advantages to each party, by confederacy between them. Boyle.

    The intent of this fable is to possess us of a just sense of the vanity of these craving appetites. Roger L'Estrange.

    Whole houses, of their whole desires possest,
    Are often ruin’d at their own request. Dryden.

    Of fortune’s favour long possess’d,
    He was with one fair daughter only bless’d. Dryden.

    We possessed ourselves of the kingdom of Naples, the dutchy of Milan and the avenue of France in Italy. Addison.

    Endowed with the greatest perfections of nature, and possessed of all the advantages of external condition, Solomon could not find happiness. Matthew Prior.

    It is of unspeakable advantage to possess our minds with an habitual good intention, and to aim all our thoughts, words and actions at some laudable end. Addison.

    Those, under the great officers, know every little case that is before the great man, and if they are possessed with honest minds, will consider poverty as a recommendation. Addis.

    Beware what spirit rages in your breast;
    For ten inspir’d, ten thousand are possest. Wentworth Dillon.

    Inspir’d within, and yet possess’d without. John Cleveland.

    I think, that the man is possessed. Jonathan Swift.

    He’s possest with greatness,
    And speaks not to himself, but with a pride
    That quarrels at self-breath. William Shakespeare, Troil. and Cres.

    Let not your ears despise my tongue,
    Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
    That ever yet they heard. William Shakespeare.

    Possest with rumours full of idle dreams,
    Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear. William Shakespeare.

    What fury, O son,
    Possesses thee, to bend that mortal dart
    Against thy father’s head? John Milton, Par. Lost, b. ii.

    With the rage of all their race possest,
    Stung to the soul the brothers start from rest. Alexander Pope.


  1. possess

    To possess means to have or own something as property or to have it in one's control. It can also refer to owning or acquiring qualities, characteristics, or abilities. In a psychological context, it can mean to dominate or control something or someone psychologically or spiritually.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Possessverb

    to occupy in person; to hold or actually have in one's own keeping; to have and to hold

  2. Possessverb

    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

  3. Possessverb

    to obtain occupation or possession of; to accomplish; to gain; to seize

  4. Possessverb

    to enter into and influence; to control the will of; to fill; to affect; -- said especially of evil spirits, passions, etc

  5. Possessverb

    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

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Possess

    poz-zes′, v.t. to have or hold as an owner: to have the control of: to inform: to seize: to enter into and influence: to put (one's self) in possession (of): (Spens.) to achieve: (Shak.) put in possession of information, convince.—adj. Possessed′, influenced by some evil spirit, demented.—n. Posses′sion, act of possessing: the thing possessed: a country taken by conquest: property: state of being possessed, as by an evil spirit: madness.—adjs. Posses′sionary, Posses′sive, pertaining to or denoting possession.—n. Posses′sive (gram.), a pronoun denoting possession: the possessive case.—adv. Posses′sively.—n. Posses′sor, one who possesses: owner: proprietor: occupant.—adj. Posses′sory, relating to a possessor or possession: having possession.—Give possession, to put in another's power or occupancy; Take possession, to assume ownership; Writ of possession, a process directing a sheriff to put a person in possession of property recovered in ejectment. [Fr.,—L. possidēre, possessum.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'possess' in Verbs Frequency: #463

How to pronounce possess?

How to say possess in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of possess in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of possess in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of possess in a Sentence

  1. Florida Scott-Maxwell:

    You need only claim the event of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.

  2. Nobuo Kishi:

    The world has become even more uncertain, japan is surrounded by actors that possess, or are developing, nuclear weapons, and that openly ignore rules.

  3. Henry Van Dyke:

    Use what talent you possess the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.

  4. Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    We know better than we do. We do not yet possess ourselves.

  5. Rene Descartes:

    Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks he is so well supplied with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters never desire more of it than they already possess.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for possess

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"possess." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/possess>.

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    a confused multitude of things
    A dint
    B ditch
    C whitewash
    D muddle

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