by 1972 (in repo man), American English, short for repossess (v.) or repossession (n.).
1550s, "to reoccupy, regain possession of;" see re- "back, again" + possess. Meaning "take back from a purchaser who defaults on payments" is recorded by 1933. Related: Repossessed; repossessing.
"renewed possession, act or state of possessing again," 1580s; see re- "back, again" + possession. By 1938 in reference to recovery of goods bought on plan by one who then defaulted on payments.