1610s, "to get possession of (ground or land) beforehand," from pre- "before" + possess. Meaning "to possess (a person) beforehand with a feeling, notion, etc." is from 1630s; specifically, "to cause (someone) to have a favorable opinion of something, preoccupy the mind or heart of" (1640s). Related: Prepossessed; prepossessing.
updated on October 19, 2020