Definition of possession noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pəˈzeʃn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pəˈzeʃn//
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  1. 1  [uncountable] (formal) the state of having or owning something The manuscript is just one of the treasures in their possession. The gang was caught in possession of stolen goods. The possession of a passport is essential for foreign travel. On her father's death, she came into possession of (= received) a vast fortune. You cannot legally take possession of the property (= start using it after buying it) until three weeks after the contract is signed. see also vacant possession
  2. 2  [countable, usually plural] something that you own or have with you at a particular time synonym belongings personal possessions The ring is one of her most treasured possessions. Please make sure you have all your possessions with you when leaving the plane. Synonymsthingsstuff property possessions junk belongings goods valuablesThese are all words for objects or items, especially ones that you own or have with you at a particular time.things (rather informal) objects, clothing or tools that you own or that are used for a particular purpose:Shall I help you pack your things? Bring your swimming things.stuff [U] (informal) used to refer to a group of objects when you do not know their names, when the names are not important or when it is obvious what you are talking about:Where’s all my stuff?property [U] (rather formal) a thing or things that are owned by somebody:This building is government property. Be careful not to damage other people’s property.possessions things that you own, especially something that can be moved:Prisoners were allowed no personal possessions except letters and photographs.junk [U] things that are considered useless or of little value:I’ve cleared out all that old junk from the attic.belongings possessions that can be moved, especially ones that you have with you at a particular time:Please make sure you have all your belongings with you when leaving the plane.goods (technical or rather formal) possessions that can be moved:He was found guilty of handling stolen goods.valuables things that are worth a lot of money, especially small personal things such as jewellery or cameras:Never leave cash or other valuables lying around.Patterns personal things/​stuff/​property/​possessions/​belongings to collect/​gather/​pack (up) your things/​stuff/​possessions/​belongings to search somebody’s/​your/​the things/​stuff/​property/​belongings to go through somebody’s/​your/​the things/​stuff/​belongings
  3. in sport
  4. 3[uncountable] the state of having control of the ball to win/get/lose possession of the ball The home team had most of the possession in the first half.
  5. law
  6. 4[uncountable] the state of having illegal drugs or weapons with you at a particular time She was charged with possession.
  7. country
  8. 5[countable] (formal) a country that is controlled or governed by another country The former colonial possessions are now independent states.
  9. by evil spirit
  10. 6[uncountable] the situation when somebody’s mind is believed to be controlled by the Devil or by an evil spirit
  11. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French, from Latin possessio(n-), from the verb possidere, from potis ‘able, capable’ + sedere ‘sit’.Extra examples Drivers must be in possession of a current driving licence. He carried all his worldly possessions in an old suitcase. Passengers must be in possession of a valid passport. The judge made a possession order against the tenant. The sports car was her proudest possession. The team was struggling to retain possession of the ball. They had exclusive possession of the property as tenants. They have in their possession some very valuable pictures. They were charged with unlawful possession of firearms. When do you take possession of your new house? the country’s overseas possessions. Prisoners were allowed no personal possessions. The ring is one of her most treasured/​prized possessions.Idioms
    leave the field clear for somebody, leave somebody in possession of the field
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    to enable somebody to be successful in a particular area of activity because other people or groups have given up competing with them The complete disarray of the opposition parties leaves the field clear for the government to implement urgent reforms.
    possession is nine tenths of the law
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    (saying) if you already have or control something, it is difficult for somebody else to take it away from you, even if they have the legal right to it
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: possession