Definition of seize in English:

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Pronunciation: /siːz/


1 [with object] Take hold of suddenly and forcibly: she jumped up and seized his arm he seized hold of the door handle
More example sentences
  • Jin escaped Vamp's hold, only to be seized by the arms.
  • The two attendants quickly hurried forward and roughly seized Angel about her arms.
  • She seized the older boy by the arm and drew him inside.
grab, grasp, snatch, seize hold of, grab hold of, take hold of, lay hold of, lay (one's) hands on, get one's hands on, take a grip of, grip, clutch, take, pluck
1.1Take forcible possession of: army rebels seized an air force base the current President seized power in a coup
More example sentences
  • The government had for days promised an all-out offensive against the rebels who seized half the country after a bloody coup attempt on September 19.
  • He has admitted he was one of the 32 armed rebels who seized the school last September.
  • Things did turn sour, though, when Chechen rebels seized a Moscow theater.
1.2(Of the police or another authority) take possession of (something) by warrant or legal right: police have seized 726 lb of cocaine
More example sentences
  • His right to possession may be suspended or temporarily divested if the goods are seized by the police under lawful authority.
  • The problem was that he needed access to funds seized by the police for legal fees.
  • They also produced receipts which they said identified where all of the items seized by the police had been purchased.
2Take (an opportunity) eagerly and decisively: he seized his chance to attack as Carr hesitated
More example sentences
  • This magnificent opportunity was eagerly seized by modernizing employers.
  • This season, injuries to others gave him his opportunity; he seized his chance with aplomb, and has been clinging to the shirt ever since.
  • We must admit that China's decision to seize a business opportunity to promote Chinese language has had good results.
3(Of a feeling or pain) affect (someone) suddenly or acutely: he was seized by the most dreadful fear
More example sentences
  • Three miles into the journey she was seized with labour pains.
  • I gasp sharply as a sudden pain seizes me around my waist.
  • Fear seized her as she suddenly realized that something was indeed different.
4Strongly appeal to or attract (the imagination or attention): the story of the king’s escape seized the public imagination
More example sentences
  • Anderson has deftly avoided falling into a number of traps since she first seized the public's attention.
  • These numbers are so large that they may escape - rather than seize - the public's attention.
  • Voters will switch off in even bigger numbers: the clash of ideas is what seizes the public imagination, not the comparison of pilot schemes.
4.1 formal Understand (something) quickly or clearly: he always strains to seize the most sombre truths
More example sentences
  • You are impressed with how nice and friendly the people are and you quickly seize those elements of culture which are similar to your own.
4.2 (be seized of) Be aware or informed of: the judge was fully seized of the point
More example sentences
  • The Industrial Tribunal is seized of all matters in issue between the parties and is the proper forum.
  • The former Union health minister had said that the Centre was seized of the issue and had constituted a high-level committee to investigate the lapses in the Vitamin A campaign.
  • Earlier, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the matter on the ground that the President was seized of the matter under Article 72 of the Constitution.
5 [no object] (Of a machine with moving parts) become jammed: the engine seized up after only three weeks
More example sentences
  • Gifted by the Danish government in 1984, this plant worked for exactly 21 days before its machinery seized up.
  • If I worked on the right hand shock absorber, why call me when the engine seized up on you?
  • The engine seized up on it, or I never would've sold it to that high-school kid who wanted to fix it up in shop class.
6 (also seise) (be seized of) English Law Be in legal possession of: the court is currently seized of custody applications
More example sentences
  • If the tribunal remains seised of the matter until the actual direction for conditional discharge is given, it seems to us highly desirable that the Tribunal should be able to have regard to relevant fresh material, should there be any.
  • In my judgment, a court which grants provisional measures is not by virtue of that fact alone definitively seised of jurisdiction on the merits of the dispute.
  • In the context of whether a court is seised of proceedings for the purposes of Article 21, the question whether those proceedings have been served is not determined by the foreign domestic rules of procedure.
6.1 historical Have or receive freehold possession of (property): any person who is seized of land has a protected interest in that land
More example sentences
  • Mr Sorrell is currently in possession of the property, and is accordingly presumed to be seised of an estate in fee simple.


seize the day

Make the most of the present moment.
Translating carpe diem
Example sentences
  • Carpe diem - seize the day - became my unspoken motto.
  • They wanted me to seize the day and live the moment and not play by the rules.
  • It is all about application and seizing the day.

Phrasal verbs

seize on/upon

Take eager advantage of (something): any momentary upturn was seized upon as evidence of recovery
More example sentences
  • United also seized upon that advantage to exert almost complete dominance of the match and finish the half well on top, and looking like they were going to run out easy winners.
  • Their views have been eagerly seized upon by lovers of conspiracy theories.
  • The U.S. will eagerly seize on any gesture of cooperation from the Germans.
grasp, grasp with both hands, grab (at), leap at, snatch, jump at, pounce on, exploit



Pronunciation: /ˈsiːzəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Since Argentina has few seizable assets abroad, there's not much the plaintiffs can do but be patient.




Middle English: from Old French seizir 'give seisin', from medieval Latin sacire, in the phrase ad proprium sacire 'claim as one's own', from a Germanic base meaning 'procedure'.

  • Seize goes back to the customs of feudal times. It is from Old French seizir ‘give seisin’ (legal possession), from medieval Latin ad proprium sacire ‘claim as one's own’, from a Germanic base meaning ‘procedure’ going back to the same root as sake. The sense ‘jam, cease to function’ in mechanical contexts dates from the late 19th century.

Words that rhyme with seize

Achinese, Ambonese, appease, Assamese, Balinese, Belize, Beninese, Bernese, bêtise, Bhutanese, breeze, Burmese, Cantonese, Castries, cerise, cheese, chemise, Chinese, Cingalese, Cleese, Congolese, Denise, Dodecanese, ease, éminence grise, expertise, Faroese, freeze, Fries, frieze, Gabonese, Genoese, Goanese, Guyanese, he's, Japanese, Javanese, jeez, journalese, Kanarese, Keys, Lebanese, lees, legalese, Louise, Macanese, Madurese, Maltese, marquise, Milanese, Nepalese, officialese, overseas, pease, Pekinese, Peloponnese, Piedmontese, please, Portuguese, Pyrenees, reprise, Rwandese, seise, Senegalese, she's, Siamese, Sienese, Sikkimese, Sinhalese, sleaze, sneeze, squeeze, Stockton-on-Tees, Sudanese, Sundanese, Surinamese, Tabriz, Taiwanese, tease, Tees, telegraphese, these, Timorese, Togolese, trapeze, valise, Viennese, Vietnamese, vocalese, wheeze

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