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[uh b-ses] /əbˈsɛs/
verb (used with object)
to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally:
Suspicion obsessed him.
verb (used without object)
to think about something unceasingly or persistently; dwell obsessively upon something.
Origin of obsess
1495-1505; < Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidēre to occupy, frequent, besiege, equivalent to ob- ob- + -sid(ēre) combining form of sedēre to sit1
Related forms
obsessingly, adverb
obsessor, noun
Can be confused
abscess, obsess.
1. possess, control, haunt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for obsess
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Knowing ourselves superior to the anxieties, troubles, and worries which obsess us, we are superior.

  • But my fears that their mental suggestions might obsess her were baseless.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Was that man going to obsess her vision everywhere, and must she try to like him just because he was a minister?

    A Voice in the Wilderness Grace Livingston Hill
  • He could not quite account for this sudden shadow which seemed to obsess the room.

    The Woman Gives Owen Johnson
  • The fear she had expressed to Tunis Latham the evening before did not obsess her.

    Sheila of Big Wreck Cove James A. Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for obsess


(transitive; when passive, foll by with or by) to preoccupy completely; haunt
(intransitive; usually foll by on or over) to worry neurotically or obsessively; brood
Word Origin
C16: from Latin obsessus besieged, past participle of obsidēre, from ob- in front of + sedēre to sit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for obsess

c.1500, "to besiege," from Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidere "watch closely; besiege, occupy; stay, remain, abide" literally "sit opposite to," from ob "against" (see ob-) + sedere "sit" (see sedentary). Of evil spirits, "to haunt," from 1530s. Psychological sense is 20c. Related: Obsessed; obsessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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