Definition of possessive in English:



  • 1Demanding someone's total attention and love.

    ‘as soon as she'd been out with a guy a few times, he'd get possessive’
    ‘she was possessive of our eldest son’
    • ‘The men looked away hurriedly when they looked upon the Princess's beauty, and possessive wives quickly drew their husband's attention.’
    • ‘Other poems present maternal love as liberating, not possessive.’
    • ‘He was overly possessive, and he freaked if I mentioned another guy's name.’
    • ‘You are a very possessive and demanding person, rarely impulsive or casual.’
    • ‘The mania type of love can be characterized as obsessive in that it is possessive and dependent.’
    • ‘Others unintentionally sabotage their relationships by exhibiting overly possessive, clinging, dependent behaviour.’
    • ‘She had lot of people who claimed her attention but later on a particular man became more possessive of her and she stopped entertaining others.’
    • ‘And that's typically what happens where a mother may be very, very possessive of that child.’
    • ‘He had never professed love, just a lustful possessive desire that fueled the cruelty in his obsession.’
    • ‘His great love remained his mother Louie, a dominating, possessive woman who spoiled and adored her son above everything else.’
    • ‘People get possessive, and people are not as romantic as they used to be.’
    • ‘Slowly he was becoming more and more possessive, controlling, demanding.’
    • ‘That kiss was like nothing I had felt before and not in a nice way, it was possessive, aggressive and demanding… it scared me.’
    • ‘Now, in some relationships certain parties are very possessive of their partner.’
    • ‘I think that men's love is very possessive and involves ownership, competition, and performance.’
    • ‘Does that mean she's already taken by an overly possessive Johnny?’
    • ‘He said yesterday: ‘I have no doubt David loved Ann very much, but it was a possessive and jealous love.’’
    • ‘Although she may claim that her possessive behaviour arises from her love, there might be a need for her to realize that love must be sustained by trust.’
    • ‘Instead of being demanding and possessive like before, he was a whole new different man.’
    • ‘She's always been so possessive and she just… I don't know.’
    proprietorial, overprotective, clinging, controlling, dominating, jealous
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    1. 1.1Showing a desire to own things and an unwillingness to share what one already owns.
      ‘young children are proud and possessive of their own property’
      • ‘She is very possessive of polar paraphernalia.’
      • ‘There were a lot of books that were in the children's names that were burnt, and children are very possessive of their things.’
      • ‘Naturally, he is very possessive about his collection.’
      • ‘If we were not greedy, possessive creatures why would we need a means to measure our worth?’
      • ‘An eagle is possessive and once it has caught a fox it will not let go.’
      • ‘Oh look, I can understand him feeling very possessive about his budget, he's been working on it a long time, but I think he needs to calm down a bit.’
      • ‘Retrograde Scorpio Venus tends to showcase the acquisitive, possessive, less lovely traits of the Tauran shadow.’
      • ‘A woman can be very possessive about personal accessories.’
      grasping, greedy, acquisitive, covetous, selfish
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  • 2Grammar
    Relating to or denoting the case of nouns and pronouns expressing possession.

    • ‘The possessive apostrophe disappeared in place names such as ‘Coopers Creek’ decades ago.’
    • ‘They can be used as components of compounds, but if they are used on their own they must be used with possessive prefixes.’
    • ‘But the evidence shows that possessive apostrophes have been dropping like flies for years.’
    • ‘It's a relational noun, which means that a possessive shows who the noun relates to.’
    • ‘Relations that are implicit in the semantic structure of a possessed noun can affect the range of plausible interpretations of a possessive construction.’


  • 1A possessive word or form.

    • ‘The rule is a perfectly absurd concoction, which grows out of a basic confusion about parts of speech (possessives are not adjectives, so you can't say ‘It looks John's,’ for example).’
    • ‘All three examples are from the very first sentences of their essays; possessives are being used to introduce discourse referents.’
    • ‘How do you do a possessive of a registered trademark that is itself already a possessive?’
    • ‘Prenominal possessives (John's car, my hat) normally function as definite expressions.’
    • ‘Special problems arise when you create possessives for names already ending in ‘s’.’
    1. 1.1The possessive case.
      • ‘Actually, today, the possessive and genitive are virtually the same.’
      • ‘Some linguists believe that English possessive is no longer a case at all, but has become a clitic, an independent particle that is always pronounced as part of the preceding word.’
      • ‘We all know that in English you form the possessive by adding an apostrophe.’


1 Form the possessive of singulars by adding ’s: Ross's, Fox's, Reese's. A few classical and foreign names are traditional exceptions to this rule, for example, Jesus’ and Euripides,’ which take an apostrophe only. 2 Form the possessive of plurals by adding an apostrophe to the plural form: the Rosses’ house, the Perezes’ car. See also apostrophe, its, and plural