Definition of possessive in English:


Syllabification: pos·ses·sive
Pronunciation: /pəˈzesiv


  • 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
    More example sentences
    • I think that men's love is very possessive and involves ownership, competition, and performance.
    • 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.
    • That kiss was like nothing I had felt before and not in a nice way, it was possessive, aggressive and demanding… it scared me.
    proprietorial, overprotective, controlling, dominating, jealous, clingy
  • 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
    More example sentences
    • If we were not greedy, possessive creatures why would we need a means to measure our worth?
    • 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.
    covetous, selfish, unwilling to share; grasping, greedy, acquisitive, grabby
  • 2 Grammar Relating to or denoting the case of nouns and pronouns expressing possession.
    [from Latin possessivus, translation of Greek ktētikē (ptōsis) 'possessive (case)']
    More example sentences
    • 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.
    • The possessive apostrophe disappeared in place names such as ‘Coopers Creek’ decades ago.


Grammar Back to top  
  • 1A possessive word or form.
    More example sentences
    • Prenominal possessives (John's car, my hat) normally function as definite expressions.
    • All three examples are from the very first sentences of their essays; possessives are being used to introduce discourse referents.
    • 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).
  • 1.1 (the possessive) The possessive case.
    More example sentences
    • We all know that in English you form the possessive by adding an apostrophe.
    • 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.



More example sentences
  • Women have potentially a bigger capacity to move through people and love freely and not possessively.
  • He'd reached up from the back seat and was rubbing my neck, sort of possessively, yet lovingly.
  • I possessively kept them out of my little brother's reach who wanted them only because he saw how much I loved them.


More example sentences
  • Complications kick in, and previously contained feelings of jealousy, betrayal, insecurity and possessiveness threaten to overwhelm what had seemed a rather civilised arrangement.
  • The second is neurotic: everyone is liable to instinctive twinges of possessiveness, so lovers shouldn't rub each other's noses in adventures outside their patch.
  • I could put up with his outbursts, the jealousy and possessiveness but not the violence.


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 apostrophe1 (usage) , its, and plural.

More definitions of possessive

Definition of possessive in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman