- Date: 14th century
- b : control or occupancy of property without regard to ownership
- c : ownership
- d : control of the ball or puck; also : an instance of having such control (as in football) <scored on their first two possessions>
- 2 : something owned, occupied, or controlled : property
- 3 a : domination by something (as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea)
- b : a psychological state in which an individual's normal personality is replaced by another
- c : self-possession
Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be an object, land/real estate or intellectual property. Ownership involves multiple rights, collectively referred to as title, which may be separated and held by different parties. The concept of ownership has existed for thousands of years and in all cultures. Over the millennia, however, and across cultures what is considered eligible to be property and how that property is regarded culturally is very different. Ownership is the basis for many other concepts that form the foundations of ancient and modern societies such as money, trade, debt, bankruptcy, the criminality of theft and private vs. public property. Ownership is the key building block in the development of the capitalist socio-economic system.
The process and mechanics of ownership are fairly complex since one can gain, transfer and lose ownership of property in a number of ways. To acquire property one can purchase it with money, trade it for other property, receive it as a gift, steal it, find it, make it or homestead it. One can transfer or lose ownership of property by selling it for money, exchanging it for other property, giving it as a gift, being robbed of it, misplacing it, or having it stripped from one's ownership through legal means such as eviction, foreclosure and seizure. Ownership is self-propagating in that the owner of any property will also own the economic benefits of that property.