verb (used with object)
to have as belonging to one; have as property; own: to possess a house and a car.
to have as a faculty, quality, or the like: to possess courage.
(of a spirit, especially an evil one) to occupy, dominate, or control (a person) from within: He thought he was possessed by devils.
(of a feeling, idea, etc.) to dominate or actuate in the manner of such a spirit: He was possessed by envy.
(of a man) to succeed in having sexual intercourse with.
to have knowledge of: to possess a language.
to keep or maintain (oneself, one's mind, etc.) in a certain state, as of peace, patience, etc.
to maintain control over (oneself, one's mind, etc.).
to impart to; inform; familiarize (often followed by of or with ): to possess someone of the facts of the case.
to cause to be dominated or influenced, as by an idea, feeling, etc.
to make (someone) owner, holder, or master, as of property, information, etc.: He possessed them of the facts.
to seize or take.
to gain or win.
to occupy or hold.

1425–75; late Middle English possesen < Middle French possess(i)er, noun derivative of possession possession

possessor, noun
possessorship, noun
underpossessor, noun
unpossessing, adjective

1. See have.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
possess (pəˈzɛs)
1.  to have as one's property; own
2.  to have as a quality, faculty, characteristic, etc: to possess good eyesight
3.  to have knowledge or mastery of: to possess a little French
4.  to gain control over or dominate: whatever possessed you to act so foolishly?
5.  (foll by of) to cause to be the owner or possessor: I am possessed of the necessary information
6.  (often foll by with) to cause to be influenced or dominated (by): the news possessed him with anger
7.  to have sexual intercourse with
8.  rare to keep control over or maintain (oneself or one's feelings) in a certain state or condition: possess yourself in patience until I tell you the news
9.  archaic to gain or seize
[C15: from Old French possesser, from Latin possidēre to own, occupy; related to Latin sedēre to sit]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

mid-15c., "to hold, occupy, reside in" (without regard to ownership), from O.Fr. possessier (mid-13c.), from L. possess-, pp. stem of possidere "to possess." Meaning "to hold as property" is recorded from c.1500. Demonic sense is recorded from 1530s (implied in possessed). Possessive first attested 1520s
in grammatical sense.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Even the most ordinary objects possess the ability to evoke powerful images,
  memories and emotions.
But I suggest that humans do or can possess a deeper level of experience than
  such anthropocentric despairs.
This is called a "long finish," and it's one of the most seductive
  attributes a wine can possess.
Courage, strength, and hope possess my soul.
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