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*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-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 periodicals archive ?
Often these meanings convey a sense of liminality, of crossing from one realm to another--much as in possessional dance in which the human crosses the threshold of divinity.
You never know exactly where the momentum will propel you; and this unknowingness reinforces the sensation of being "taken over" by an outside force--a fundamental part of possessional dance.
The ex-Orient man was faultless throughout from crosses and also showed his possessional sense when grasping Mark Hynes' 10-yard volley but he was only a spectator when the ever lively Simon Wormull unleashed a rising cross shot which grazed the bar.
But, at the same time, it was also a little disappointing that Huddersfield had only managed to open up a 7-0 interval lead when they had enjoyed such overwhelming possessional and territorial advantage.