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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Possed(e, Posseid, v. Also: poseid, poseidd-, posceid, posseyd, possaid, posside. [Late ME and e.m.E. possede (Lydgate, Alexander), poosseede (c 1430), -seade (1556), F. posséder (1364 in Wartburg), earlier possider (1260 in Wartburg), L. possidēre, also its causative L. possīdere. Cf. Posses(s v.]

1. tr. To be in possession of, as owner or otherwise, to occupy, enjoy the use of (land, rents, etc.). = Posses(s v. 3.(a) 1392 Lennox Mun. 46.
Als frely as the saidis William and Issabel held or possedyt the forsayde landis
c1420 Wynt. iv 2556 (W).
For to put in autentick writt … quha thai landis were haldand Possedand or inhabitand
14.. Acts I 358/2.
Quhen ony man possedis land as wadset and therof is castyn out wrangwisly
1433 Liber Coll. Glasg. 167.
To be haldyn … als frely as ony land is broukyt or possedyt in fe
1493 Acta Aud. 184/1. 1496 Acta Conc. II 7. 1498–9 Ib. 321.
1511 Reg. Privy S. I 348/1.
Of the gift of … landis … quhilk war the said Patrikis of befor in heretage and possedit be him
1533 Boece 226.
Of channons regulare quhilk … possedis mony fare abbayis
Ib. 512 b.
King William resignit the landis quhilk he possedit in Ingland
1533 Bell. Livy II 123/4.
For the said law put the faderis fra the public landis quhilkis thai wrangwislie possedit
1539 Ex. Processes (Reg. H.) No. iv Scott v Scott & McDowall.
And the said Dame Elezabeth and hir saidis sonnis gudis put thareon and tharefter peciabillie possedit be thame
1543 Elgin Rec. I 77. 1552 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 483. 1557–8 14th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. iii 77.
The sex riggis … sall be browikkit wssit and possedit fra thinefwrth be Mr. George Ker
1559 Inverness Rec. I 32.
That the said James Paterson nor Andro Suderland possed occupe manyr labor onne part of the said wennall
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 16.
He tuk the surename be ressoun of the landis that he possedit for the tyme
1645 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III 42.
The moueabill airship undirwrittin quhilks he haid and possedit perteining to him the tyme of his deceise
(b) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xi 33.
Thocht all this warld thow did posseid, Nocht eftir death thow sall posses
1528 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 94.
We ordand Michaell Loremer to brouk and posseid his forgis quhill Vytsonday neixt to cum payand the maill promist and thairefter to pas thairfra
1531 Bell. Boece II 262.
Na man sall posseid landis, rentis … bot … be the kinges licence
1531 Rec. Earld. Orkney 215.
Als … paceabilly as ony rotht land is brukit, joissit, and posceidit within the boundis of Orkna
1535 Stewart 24885.
Syne to Hungest and to the Saxonis seid, Tha landis gaif to pleneis and posseid
1555 Acts II 501/2 (see Possedar n.). 1556 Prot. Bk. T. Dalrymple 45.
Thai sall posseid & bruik the tane half of the cailȝard
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lx 55.
In vane he laubouris as ane be Quhois rent ane vther dois posseid [: neid]
1562–3 Linlithgow Sheriff Ct. 6 March.
Nor suffer the said James posseid the landis libellit
a1585 J. Maitland Maitl. Q. xliv 54.
Reid how thay forcit the Britonis folkis to flit And ȝit posseidis that peopillis propertie
1618 Sc. Ant. XI 21.
Presentlie poseiddit be Thomas Meldrum
(c) 1561 Inverness Rec. I 69.
Na vnfre man sall occupie or possaid ony of the commond tackis of our burgh

b. Of a people: To occupy (a territory) as resident users or controllers; also, to inhabit. = Posses(s v. 3 b. 1531 Bell. Boece I 5.
Baith thir pepill … sall … rejos the samin landis … quhilk thay possedit afore this last battel
Ib. (M) II 75.
That Scottis sall posseid perpetuallie Northumberland but ony infestacioun of Inglis men

c. Of a ruler: To have as one's dominion, to rule. 1533 Bell. Livy I 90/6.
That ane servand … suld possede … the kingdome & ciete that Romulus the god of Romanis … had reiosit afore
Ib. 102/3.
Priscus Terquynyus, quhilk had ay mare desire to possede ane realme presentlie than [etc.]
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. Pray. 26.
Assist him [sc. the king] … that he may merite be his … richteous gouuernement to possede al nations that appertenit to him
1609 Garden Garden 71.
Thou [sc. James VI and I] now posseids with peace … That never could be win with war

d. With non-material object (as a position, office, privilege). c1420 Wynt. viii 240 (W).
Gif thare be ony maill Funding of evinlik gre For to posseid that ryalte
c1500-c1512 Dunb. viii 15.
Of so hie price sall nane his place posseid, For he is gon
Ib. lx 48.
And mekle mair cuning … Hes to posseid ane dignite
1540 Acts II 358/1.
Suppois we … suffer ony persoune or personis to vse or posside ony preuilegis or possessionis of landis rentis and offices that ar fallin vnder our reuocatioune [etc.]
1551 Reg. Privy S. IV 214/1.
[To] use, exerce, brouke and posside the foirsaid office with all feis
1574 Ib. VI 472/2.

2. To have for one's own, in more general applications.

a. A material possession, a belonging, b. a person, in various specific applications.a. a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. ci 32.
Mony … curis not agane the law To tak that ony man possedis
1580 Prot. Bk. J. Robertsone 2 b.
The sempill guidis … that thay posseidis beand onle conqueist … be thair awin laubouris
b. a1500 Lanc. 577.
And ek Vanour the quen … He bad me say he thinkis to possede
15.. Clar. ii 702.
He sall ȝour varlot be … If ȝe him list, for tearme of lyfe poseid
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8552.
The male [Raven] sayis that he suld posseid His awin ȝoung bird that helpit it in neid
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. l 47.
Happie is he that sall posseid In marriage this Margareit

c. To have or enjoy (an attribute, condition or quality). 1531 Bell. Boece I xv.
An sine posseid triumphe innumerus, With lang empire and hie felicite
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 820.
For he … Suld haue possedit those plesouris

3. To take or obtain possession of, gain, win. Also fig. = Posses(s v. 5. 1513 Doug. xi Prol. 198.
Than lat ws stryve that realm forto posseid The quhilk was hecht till Abraham and hys seyd
1533 Bell. Livy I 170/10.
That na man sell, nor ȝit posseid, the gudis of ony Romane cieteȝane, … sa lang as thai ar within the Romane army
1562-3 Winȝet I 115/14.
Thame quha says, Lat ws posseid be hæretage the sanctuarie of God
1604-31 Craig ii 101.
Thou … by spoyling both … posseyds my heart in peace

4. In causative uses. = Posses(s v. 1 and 2. 1527 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 89.
That he posseidit the ground of Volle Trumbull with the sammyne poundis at Sanct Androu day cum thre yeiris
1567 G. Ball. 94.
Full happy is the pepill … quhome that God do cheis … Thame to posseid [v.r. posses] in proper heritage

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"Possed v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2022 <>



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