v. seized, seiz·ing, seiz·es
1. To grasp suddenly and forcibly; take or grab: seize a sword.
a. To take by force; capture or conquer: The kidnappers seized the prince. The invaders seized the city.
b. To take quick and forcible possession of; confiscate: The police seized a cache of illegal drugs.
a. To focus the attention or intellect on: seize an idea and develop it to the fullest extent.
b. To make use of (an opportunity, for example).
a. To have a sudden overwhelming effect on: a heinous crime that seized the minds and emotions of the populace.
b. To overwhelm physically: a person who was seized with a terminal disease.
5. also seise (sēz) Law To cause (someone) to be in possession of something.
6. Nautical To bind (a rope) to another, or to a spar, with turns of small line.
1. To lay sudden or forcible hold of something.
a. To cohere or fuse with another part as a result of high pressure or temperature and restrict or prevent further motion or flow.
b. To come to a halt: The talks seized up and were rescheduled.
3. To exhibit signs of seizure activity, often with convulsions.
To focus one's attention or intellect on: seized on the notion of gender as a cultural construct.
[Middle English seisen, from Old French seisir, to take possession, of Germanic origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.