seize (v.)

mid-13c., seisen, "take possession, take possession of" (land, goods, etc.) by force or authority, from Old French seisir "to take possession of, take by force; put in possession of, bestow upon" (Modern French saisir), from Late Latin sacire (8c.), which generally is held to be from Germanic, but the exact source is uncertain. Perhaps from Frankish *sakjan "lay claim to" (compare Gothic sokjan, Old English secan "to seek;" see seek). Or perhaps from Proto-Germanic *satjan "to place" (see set (v.)).

Originally a legal term in reference to feudal property holdings or offices. Meaning "to grip with the hands or teeth" is from c. 1300; that of "to take possession by force or capture" (of a city, etc.) is from mid-14c. Figurative use, with reference to death, disease, fear, etc., "to come upon with a sudden attack," is from late 14c. Meaning "to grasp with the mind" is attested from 1855.

Of engines or other mechanisms, intransitive, "to stick, jam, lock fast," attested by 1878. Related: Seized; seizing.

updated on April 15, 2022

Definitions of seize from WordNet

seize (v.)
take hold of; grab;
The sales clerk quickly seized the money on the counter
Birds of prey often seize small mammals
The mother seized her child by the arm
Synonyms: prehend / clutch
seize (v.)
take or capture by force;
The rebels threaten to seize civilian hostages
The terrorists seized the politicians
seize (v.)
take possession of by force, as after an invasion;
The army seized the town
the invaders seized the land and property of the inhabitants
Synonyms: appropriate / capture / conquer
seize (v.)
take temporary possession of as a security, by legal authority;
The FBI seized the drugs
seize (v.)
seize and take control without authority and possibly with force; take as one's right or possession;
She seized control of the throne after her husband died
Synonyms: assume / usurp / take over / arrogate
seize (v.)
hook by a pull on the line;
seize (v.)
He was seized with a dreadful disease
Fear seized the prisoners
The patient was seized with unbearable pains
Synonyms: clutch / get hold of
seize (v.)
capture the attention or imagination of;
The movie seized my imagination
Synonyms: grab
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.