Definition of obsess in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.

    ‘he was obsessed with the theme of death’
    ‘he became completely obsessed about germs’
    • ‘When it comes to saving and investing, people are obsessed with the returns they're going to get on their money.’
    • ‘But music continued to obsess him; in many of his stories, he links it with supernatural forces.’
    • ‘If there was anything one person should know about Carrie it was that she was obsessed with fashion and beauty.’
    • ‘When Wendy documents the latest weird developments in copyright law on her blog, she also offers us a glimpse of what obsesses people at the turn of the century.’
    • ‘Just navigate down to a topic that obsesses you and sign up to become an editor through the link on that page.’
    • ‘In our country there are people obsessed with windfall profits and fabulous wealth.’
    • ‘Whether or not he was obsessed with most facets of academics at my school as I did he would always be my best friend.’
    • ‘She was obsessed with one food for about a month and a half and then she changed her mind.’
    • ‘At 28 he should now be at his peak, but it seems that he is obsessed with speed and lacks rhythm and control.’
    • ‘There are questions that obsess athletes and journalists.’
    • ‘This is a question that will obsess me for the rest of my life.’
    • ‘What can you do so as not to leave behind what obsesses you?’
    • ‘Just when Friedman's interviews start to get interesting, he brings them back to the question that obsesses him: ‘Yes, but what do you think about America?’’
    • ‘We were so obsessed with the evil of the Nazis that they didn't ask the question.’
    • ‘The matters that obsess her protagonists clearly obsess her and her obsessible readers as well.’
    • ‘He was obsessed with her for a while, and then he finally seemed to be letting go of her.’
    • ‘She was the one who had asked him out in the first place because she was obsessed with him.’
    • ‘Since then, the question of whether or not the particle exists has obsessed physicists across the world.’
    • ‘I have to work toward a depth of physicality to create the consuming jealousy that obsesses her.’
    • ‘It's not clear that Frears has a single theme that obsesses him.’
    preoccupy, be uppermost in someone's mind, prey on someone's mind, prey on, possess, haunt, consume, plague, torment, hound, bedevil, take control of, take over, become an obsession with, have a hold on, engross, eat up, have a grip on, grip, dominate, rule, control, beset, monopolize
    be fixated, be preoccupied, be infatuated, be possessed, be haunted, be consumed, be plagued, be tormented, be bedevilled, be eaten up, be gripped, be in the grip of, be dominated, be beset
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of a person) be preoccupied with or constantly worrying about something.
      ‘her husband, who is obsessing about the wrong she has done him’
      • ‘So how come I'm sitting here, at almost 40 years old, still obsessing about it?’
      • ‘If you look at London and the Olympic bid, what they are obsessing about, quite rightly, is infrastructure: accommodation and transport.’
      • ‘Then again, now that I'm spending my days obsessing about a man I've more or less invented, I'm hardly one to cast aspersions on other people's productivity.’
      • ‘I haven't seen people be so obsessed and upset in my lifetime - you know, about everything.’
      • ‘What would I be thinking if I wasn't obsessing about whether I'd been overheard gossiping and, if so, whether it was going to ruin my or someone else's life?’
      • ‘The fact that this question has been raised shows how obsessed people are with the plant.’
      • ‘The President made a lot of mistakes last week, but most of his critics are making an even bigger one now by obsessing about what he said and did.’
      • ‘Only then will we be able to stop obsessing about what's wrong and begin to appreciate what's right.’
      • ‘I am not obsessing about it, not more than I ever did anyway.’
      • ‘Right now, you may have noticed, I'm obsessing about Plácido.’
      • ‘If I didn't ‘waste’ emotion obsessing about things, I'd like to think this blog would be much different than it is now.’
      • ‘I miss talking about where my life is heading, what my thoughts are, the state of my relationships, things I'm obsessing about, things that inspire me.’
      • ‘They're not very accurate as a detailed performance indicator and universities shouldn't waste too much time obsessing about rankings.’
      • ‘I was an editor of the school newspaper, acting in the spring play, obsessing about which girls I liked, talking Marx and Dostoevsky with my classmates.’
      • ‘Look at all of the time I've wasted in my life obsessing about my weight and what to eat or whether or not I'm exercising enough.’
      • ‘We have also a tendency in the media for obsessing about stories.’
      • ‘I will eventually stop obsessing about this enough to write about something else.’
      • ‘Cady begins to be chuffed by her new status; she grows to like obsessing about food, looks and weight and is secretly thrilled by her licence to be bitchy and cruel.’
      • ‘He was utterly obsessed of course and had a splendid ego but he's a master artist.’
      • ‘But I have decided that I am doing myself no favors obsessing about it, which I have been doing.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘haunt, possess’, referring to an evil spirit): from Latin obsess- ‘besieged’, from the verb obsidere, from ob- ‘opposite’ + sedere ‘sit’. The current sense dates from the late 19th century.