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From Middle French possesser (to possess), from Latin possessus, past participle of possīdeō.


  • IPA(key): /pəˈzɛs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛs


possess (third-person singular simple present possesses, present participle possessing, simple past and past participle possessed)

  1. (transitive) To have; to have ownership of.
    He does not even possess a working telephone.
    • 1818, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Volume 3, Chapter 7:
      [...], the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds, which hardly any later friend can obtain.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      He read the letter aloud. Sophia listened with the studied air of one for whom, even in these days, a title possessed some surreptitious allurement.
  2. (transitive) To take control of someone's body or mind, especially in a supernatural manner.
    They thought he was possessed by evil spirits.
    What on earth possessed you to go walking by the quarry at midnight?
  3. (transitive, dated, chiefly with of) To vest ownership in (someone, or oneself); to give someone power or knowledge; to acquaint; to inform.


  • ((with of), to vest ownership): seise
  • (qualities or characteristics): inhold


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.