possession

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in (one's) possession

Owned, held by, or under the custody of someone. With her father's inheritance in her possession, Samantha intends to start her own business. The detective wanted to know how long the victim's diary had been in the suspect's possession.
See also: possession

possession is nine-tenths of the law

Having the actual ownership or custody of something is legally stronger than simply claiming it belongs to you. She's arguing that the antique stopwatch rightfully belongs to her, but possession is nine-tenths of the law.
See also: law, of, possession

take possession (of something)

To gain or assume ownership or custody of something. She took possession of the house following the court's ruling that she was the legal inheritor of the estate. The bank took possession of my car after I was unable to keep up my monthly repayments.
See also: possession, take

*in someone's possession

held by someone; owned by someone. (*Typically: be ~; come [into] ~.) The book is now in my possession. How long has this object been in your possession?
See also: possession

Possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Prov. If you actually possess something, you have a stronger legal claim to owning it than someone who merely says it belongs to him or her. Dana may say he owns this house, but we actually live in it, and possession is nine-tenths of the law.
See also: law, of, possession

take possession (of something)

to assume ownership of something. I am to take possession of the house as soon as we sign the papers.
See also: possession, take

possession is nine points of the law

Actually holding something is better than merely claiming it. For example, When Karen told John he must return the sofa he'd borrowed, he said possession is nine points of the law . This term originally alluded to nine elements that would aid someone's lawsuit, among them a good lawyer, good witnesses, a good jury, a good judge, and good luck. In time, however, the term was used more for squatter's rights. [Late 1500s]
See also: law, nine, of, point, possession

possession is nine points/tenths/parts of the ˈlaw

(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 also: law, nine, of, part, point, possession, tenth

take posˈsession (of something)

(formal) become the owner of something: He couldn’t pay his taxes, so the government took possession of his property.
See also: possession, take

possession is nine-tenths of the law

Custody presumes ownership. The basis of this legal maxim that comes down from the 17th-century is the commonsense observation that if you have control of something, chances are better than average that it's yours. Lawyers term it a rebuttable presumption: ownership is recognized unless disproved by someone holding a more valid claim. The phrase started life as “possession is nine points of the law,” which referred to possession's satisfying nine out of eleven factors that constituted absolute ownership. However, “nine-tenths” entered popular usage to reflect the idea that custody is 90 percent of legal ownership.
See also: law, of, possession
References in classic literature ?
He told them of the strenuous attempt of the girl's savage mate to rescue her, and suggested that the sooner they got her out of the country the more likely they were to retain possession of her.
Dantes, struck with the beauty and capability of the little vessel, applied to its owner to transfer it to him, offering sixty thousand francs, upon condition that he should be allowed to take immediate possession.
For 'Socrates has sight' is the opposite of 'Socrates is blind' in the sense of the word 'opposite' which applies to possession and privation.
On the banks of the Hudson River was a colony of Dutch, who had taken possession of that region many years before, and called it New Netherlands.
The expedition for the occupation of the Marquesas had sailed from Brest in the spring of 1842, and the secret of its destination was solely in the possession of its commander.
in possession of this million, which was to be torn, as it were, from the loyalty and not the royalism of General Monk.
He had but exhibited the beast's jealous protective instinct for a possession.
I do believe that it is the possession of this other-personality--but not so strong a one as mine--that has in some few others given rise to belief in personal reincarnation experiences.
And when he saw Cocky, one day, perched and voluble, on the twisted fingers of Kwaque's left hand, Ah Moy discovered such instant distaste for the bird that not even eighteen shillings, coupled with possession of Cocky and possible contact, had any value to him.
As a matter of course, we took possession of the letters and the Diary, and sealed them up, to be given to the Fiscal.
So large was his following that he managed to take possession of the empty shell of the old Democratic Party.
Circumstances had fortified Mercy behind the strongest of all natural rights--the right of first possession.
Though I should never have possession of thy charming person, still shalt thou alone have possession of my thoughts, my love, my soul.
Important matters relating to a legacy had kept him for several years in the United States, where he had continued the work begun by him in France, whither he had returned in possession of a large fortune.
But every time he began talking to her, he felt that the spirit of evil and deceit, which had taken possession of her, had possession of him too, and he talked to her in a tone quite unlike that in which he had meant to talk.