Definition of possession in English:



  • 1mass noun The state of having, owning, or controlling something.

    ‘she had taken possession of the sofa’
    ‘the book came into my possession’
    ‘he remains in full possession of his sanity’
    • ‘That finally came into my possession for real a few days after my birthday.’
    • ‘Upon the death of my former client and unknown to his colleagues, two trunk boxes came into my possession.’
    • ‘‘And when it came into my possession I painted it green as well after I started doing it up about two years ago’.’
    • ‘A young man professed that four counterfeit € 100 notes came into his possession when he had a lucky day in the bookies.’
    • ‘The photos came into his possession by accident and he thinks they may never have been published.’
    • ‘Once an empty vodka bottle came into my possession somehow, I must have been about nine at the time.’
    • ‘She quickly averted her gaze in guilt and began explaining how such a book came into her possession.’
    • ‘After describing its appearance he gives an account of how it came into his possession, how he had its pages cut and bound, how his hands shook as he opened it for the first time.’
    • ‘Anyway, a copy came into my possession, and the little I have read has really taken me by surprise, and I promise I will do my very best not to get too hyped up about it.’
    • ‘No one in full possession of their mental faculties would describe them as dull or generic.’
    • ‘They had taken possession of Orissa and its salt industry in the year 1803 and organized the industry by introducing monopoly system.’
    • ‘He said they had turned down the offer because they wanted the council to be in full possession of all the facts surrounding the proposals.’
    • ‘Individuals in full possession of their faculties who choose suicide are in fact mistaken.’
    • ‘She was an intelligent girl and a voracious reader; most of the dusty old tomes that came into her possession didn't even stand a chance.’
    • ‘‘We are following a number of lines of enquiry and we have taken possession of a number of items from the scene,’ added the Inspector.’
    • ‘This system allows the guilty party to remain in full possession of the home and all the accompanying comforts and conveniences.’
    • ‘He has taken possession of the fossils to study them, and this has a number of researchers worried.’
    • ‘I've taken possession of the new artificial limb and am currently putting it through its paces.’
    • ‘This prompts a digression, as I recall that I once threw a party at a flat I'd recently taken possession of - but before the arrival of my furniture.’
    • ‘By dawn on Saturday, the fog had taken possession of the downtown streets: the coast road would be viewless.’
    ownership, proprietorship, control, hands, keeping, care, custody, charge, hold, title, guardianship
    seize, appropriate, impound, expropriate, sequestrate, sequester, confiscate
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    1. 1.1Law Visible power or control over something, as distinct from lawful ownership; holding or occupancy as distinct from ownership.
      ‘the landlord wishes to gain possession of the accommodation’
      • ‘They were charged with theft and illegal possession of loaded firearms within city limits.’
      • ‘That sometimes includes items where rights to ownership and/or possession are in dispute.’
      • ‘I promise that I won't let him gain possession of the map.’
      • ‘Illegal possession of firearms carries a jail term of five to 10 years.’
      • ‘He has pleaded not guilty to an additional charge of taking possession of the weapons.’
      occupancy, tenure, occupation, holding, tenancy
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal The state of possessing an illegal drug.
      ‘they're charged with possession’
      • ‘All offenders were charged with possession of illegal class 1 drugs with intent to sell.’
      • ‘All the suspects face a number of charges of illegal drug possession and possession for the purpose of trafficking.’
      • ‘All three were taken in for questioning and later charged with illegal drug possession with intent to sell.’
      • ‘So it was the one act of the appellant that attempted to take possession of the drugs.’
      • ‘Three men and one woman were arrested for suspected crimes ranging from handling stolen goods to drug possession and owning the illegal weapon.’
      • ‘The US Supreme Court rules people using medical marijuana can be prosecuted for possession of an illegal drug.’
      • ‘My father was sent to jail for illegal possession of drugs and for child abuse.’
      • ‘Despite its reputation as strict on drug policy, plans to decriminalize marijuana possession in Oklahoma are advancing.’
      • ‘They were subsequently charged with possession and use of illegal drugs and now await court proceedings.’
      • ‘Abuse and possession of illegal drugs is not uncommon among the homeless.’
      • ‘Anyone caught without an ID card and in possession of cannabis, would be in possession of an illegal drug, and pay the consequences.’
      • ‘Many have criticized laws that ban drug possession and prostitution, for example, and there are even organizations devoted to the repeal of these laws.’
      • ‘There was simply no evidence as to the defendant's possession of such drugs, or that they were funded from previous dealing.’
      • ‘Police charged her with possession and sale of illegal drugs.’
      • ‘However, his conduct and the confiscated drugs indicated otherwise, and he was charged with possession of class 1 illegal drugs.’
      • ‘The difference between misdemeanor and felony drug possession is one gram.’
      • ‘Users are committing a criminal offence by the possession of illegal drugs and interaction with criminal elements.’
      • ‘They learned that on June 25 he was charged with possession of drugs.’
      • ‘All three were charged with possession and distribution of illegal drugs and were duly sent for legal processing.’
      • ‘The possession of all illegal drugs, not just cannabis, will no longer be a criminal offence in the country.’
    3. 1.3 (in soccer, rugby, and other ball games) temporary control of the ball by a player or team.
      ‘the ball hit a defender and Brown's quick reaction put him in possession’
      • ‘These days, when your team is in possession, it is not so much what the player with the ball in hand does that counts, it is what the other players do.’
      • ‘It was in Nancy that I had my biggest spat with a team-mate, who came on as substitute and twice got caught in possession so that we drew a game we had led 2-0.’
      • ‘With the enormous strides in the level of physical fitness, players are able to provide so much more support for the player in possession of the ball.’
      • ‘A constitutive rule would be that a touchdown is scored when a player crosses the opponents' goal line in possession of the ball while play is in progress.’
      • ‘In Europe you can touch the player who's in possession of the ball.’
      • ‘Also, goals could only be scored if a player in possession of the ball held it stationary in the opposing goal.’
      • ‘In possession of the ball, and particularly in the opening half hour of an unusually entertaining England friendly, the home side looked comfortable.’
      • ‘Two minutes later the same player was fouled in possession and his spot-on kick put three points between the teams.’
      • ‘At the same time, referees were encouraged to, and rewarded for, advancing continuity and allowing more latitude for the team in possession of the ball.’
      • ‘If the time expires then the ball passes over to the opposition, as it does if the team in possession commits a foul.’
      • ‘He was caught in possession with the ball once, but scrapped his way through and managed to get the ball away to a team-mate.’
      • ‘A player in possession at this level should have no problem popping the ball over the bar from inside the 45-metre line.’
      • ‘At the time of writing the team in possession are Everton.’
      • ‘He is also in good rebounding position in case the guard in possession shoots the ball.’
      • ‘Forcing the player to release the ball more quickly would lessen the opportunity for the unseemly scrums that can gather around a player in possession, but that's for another day.’
      • ‘Both teams played a similar type of football with a concentration on tight marking and supporting the player in possession and delivering low ball into speedy forwards.’
      • ‘He's not the fastest player on the books and occasionally he can be a bit casual and sometimes gets caught in possession.’
      • ‘In the past we have been desperate to get midfielders forward instead of putting our foot on the ball, keeping possession and opening teams up.’
      • ‘They could frolic in the corner until the early hours, creating immaculate triangles which somehow keep their team in possession.’
      • ‘Yet they looked comfortable in possession early on, used the ball economically, rarely gave it away.’
  • 2usually possessionsSomething that is owned or possessed.

    ‘I had no money or possessions’
    ‘that photograph was Bert's most precious possession’
    • ‘There's more to life than work, study and striving for career, money and possessions.’
    • ‘Why did Jesus exhort the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor?’
    • ‘At one time, they were treasured possessions, but now have fallen on hard times.’
    • ‘And if you do not make a will then your home, your possessions, and your money may end up in the wrong hands.’
    • ‘Shoppers have two days this weekend to bring their most treasured possessions to the centre to be critiqued and valued.’
    • ‘Looting the tawdry possessions of the African villagers was both a reprisal and a reward.’
    • ‘This has allowed for the preservation of the family's many treasured possessions.’
    • ‘Potential donors need to feel confident that their possessions will be properly looked after.’
    • ‘Beside her mother, she was the cause of his joy and the most precious of his possessions.’
    • ‘Children need to learn about money and possessions - most importantly about the moral side.’
    • ‘It is aimed at giving people enough warning to either get out of the house or move valuable possessions to safety.’
    • ‘After death, our lives can be reduced to a heap of junk, yet our possessions actually outlive us.’
    • ‘What if we were unconcerned with possessions, money or always having the best or biggest.’
    • ‘A police spokesman said the pair had little money and no possessions with them when they left.’
    • ‘Although unable to hold land a thrall could have possessions, money and time to do work for himself.’
    • ‘This includes the loss of treasured possessions, not to mention the upheaval of moving out for five to seven months.’
    • ‘Modern thinking seems to be that it is better to have possessions than money.’
    • ‘He has nothing left of his parents, and no one to inherit his own possessions.’
    • ‘These people seemed to have been buried with all of their most precious personal possessions.’
    • ‘At heart, it's got to do with what the greedy do with their money and possessions.’
    asset, thing, article, item owned, chattel
    belongings, things, property, worldly goods, goods, personal effects, effects, stuff, assets, accoutrements, paraphernalia, impedimenta, bits and pieces, luggage, baggage, bags and baggage, chattels, movables, valuables
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A territory or country controlled or governed by another.
      ‘France's former colonial possessions’
      • ‘He made it clear that France would not give up any of its colonial possessions.’
      • ‘They were sailing through unchartered waters, as this country - then called the East Indies - was still a colonial possession of the Dutch.’
      • ‘Our Empire has vanished and only a few tiny islands are left from our colonial possessions.’
      • ‘The possession of vast territory, raw physical resources, and brute power guarantees neither prosperity nor peace.’
      • ‘Spain, in particular, feared for her possessions in northern Italy and the Low Countries.’
      • ‘The kaiser, he said, had no intention of taking permanent possession of Venezuelan territory.’
      • ‘Yet by 1900 Britain had acquired huge territorial possessions in both areas.’
      • ‘Just as maps can confer the possession of a territory, they can likewise become a means to imagine new articulations of space.’
      • ‘It still regards New Caledonia and French Polynesia as part of France, as much as Brittany or Provence are, and not as a colonial possession.’
      • ‘The town was the last of the former possessions of Henry V that had remained in English hands.’
      • ‘The principal possessions were New France and some islands in the Caribbean.’
      • ‘Kings of England had held territorial possessions in France since the Conquest.’
      • ‘The development of the sugar culture in French Caribbean possessions was also spectacular.’
      colony, dependency, territory, holding, dominion, protectorate
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  • 3mass noun The state of being controlled by a demon or spirit.

    ‘they said prayers to protect the people inside the hall from demonic possession’
    • ‘For all their apparent difference, classical Shinto and Japanese new religions like Mahikari did share a core belief in spirit possession.’
    • ‘In fact, reports of haunting and spirit possession are far more common than you might suppose.’
    • ‘Her actions were so out-of-character for her that I latched onto demon possession as an explanation.’
    • ‘I was deathly afraid of spirits, and possession in particular, due a lifelong sensitivity and some not too nice encounters as a child.’
    • ‘Our studies of Satan bring us to another frightening thought… demon possession.’
    • ‘But there's a major difference between believing in demonic possession and using torture and beatings to exorcize children.’
    • ‘Some Christian services include glossolalia, spirit possession, and faith healing.’
    • ‘There is a proliferation of religious discourses centering on spirits, spirit possession, and witchcraft.’
    • ‘The spirit possession ceremonies all follow a similar pattern.’
    • ‘Furthermore, he draws an analogy between the belief in hypnosis and the belief in demonic possession and exorcism.’
    • ‘These bodily manifestations often make the rituals of spirit possession dramatic and theatrical.’
    • ‘Some Vodun spirits were borrowed from the Yoruba religion, and Vodun involves divination and spirit possession.’
    • ‘They were told that unless all the criteria of a ‘genuine’ demonic possession were met, an exorcism could not be offered.’
    • ‘I'd go the other way, I'd start by trying to make your mind as open as possible and experience some spooky telepathy and spirit possession or whatever.’
    • ‘Belief in spirit possession flourishes in times and places where there is ignorance about mental states.’
    • ‘Other causes may be the evil eye, witchcraft, possession by an evil spirit, or a curse by a sorcerer or an offended neighbour.’
    • ‘Some claim that mental illness is caused by possession by spirit entities which must be placated.’
    • ‘These ‘diseases’ can be as serious as demonic possession or as trivial as excessive giggling.’
    • ‘The practice of santeria involves healing rituals, spirit possession, and animal sacrifice.’
    • ‘This article examines the epistemological certainties and uncertainties of Akan spirit possession and witchcraft knowledge.’
    1. 3.1 The state of being completely dominated by an idea or emotion.
      ‘fear took possession of my soul’
      • ‘But there was something so gloomy and unsociable, so queer and almost weird about the whole aspect and feeling of the place, that a sort of irritable resignation took possession of me.’
      • ‘The dream that took possession of him then owns him even now.’


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin possessio(n-), from the verb possidere (see possess).