Meaning of “seize” in the English Dictionary

"seize" in British English

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uk /siːz/ us /siːz/

B2 [ T ] to take something quickly and keep or hold it:

I seized his arm and made him turn to look at me.
He seized the chance/opportunity of a free flight with both hands (= with eagerness or enthusiasm).

C2 [ T ] to take using sudden force:

The rebels have seized ten soldiers to use as hostages.
Political instability helped the army to seize power.
Troops yesterday seized control of the broadcasting station.

[ T ] If the police or other officials seize something, they take possession of it with legal authority:

Customs officers at Heathrow have seized 60 kilos of heroin.

[ usually passive ] If a strong emotion or pain seizes you, you feel it suddenly:

I was suddenly seized by/with a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness.

More examples

  • She seized the gun and ran at him.
  • Seizing the book in both hands, she threw it across the room.
  • Heroin worth about $5 million was seized.
  • The soldiers fell on the villagers and seized all their weapons.
  • The terrorists have seized 20 hostages and are threatening to kill one a day unless their demands are met.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “seize” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"seize" in American English

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seizeverb [ T ]

us /siz/

to take something quickly and hold it:

He seized her arm to lead her through the crowd.
fig. While she was distracted, I seized the opportunity to take a cookie.

Seize can also mean to take by force:

Rebel forces seized control of six towns.

If police or other officials seize something, they take possession of it by legal authority:

The goods that were seized had been hidden in a shipment of paint.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “seize” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"seize" in Business English

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seizeverb [ T ]

uk /siːz/ us

LAW if the police or government seizes property or assets, they take possession of them because they are illegal, or because the owner owes money:

Customs agents last year seized $14 million in counterfeit electronics goods at the nation's ports.

US LAW, GOVERNMENT if the government or other official authority seizes a company, they stop it from trading because of illegal activity or debts:

The government has threatened to seize any business that does not sell goods at the advertised price.

to take advantage of something that is available:

A Malaysian tycoon seized the chance to bid for the company, and won.
By having a contract already prepared, you may be able to seize the initiative in negotiations.

to take control of something, especially when others are trying to stop you:

seize control/power Disgruntled shareholders tried to oust the board and seize control of the company.
In finance, telecoms, media, and technology, there is thought to be a rare opportunity to seize global market share.

(Definition of “seize” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)