Ownership – definition and meaning

Ownership is the state, act, or right of owning something, i.e., possessing something. The term may also refer to an organization or group of owners. It is the exclusive and ultimate legal right to a lawful claim or title. If you have ownership, you can possess, enjoy, sell, give away, bequeath, destroy, or sell an item of property.

In the digital era, ownership extends to online content and virtual assets, reflecting the evolving nature of property in the 21st century.

If you have ownership of something it means that you are the owner; it belongs to you. The term does not only refer to people but also to other entities.

For example, the government is the owner of a state company. Also, a holding company owns its subsidiary businesses.

Merriam-Webster has two meanings for the term:

“1. The state, relation, or fact of being an owner. 2. A group or organization of owners.”

Ownership – many forms

There are many forms of ownership. For example, there may be private or collective owners of property. There are also common owners of property. The property somebody owns may be an object, building, or land.

In fact, there are even owners of intellectual property. Intellectual property refers to patents, trademarks, slogans, i.e., things our minds create.

Ownership - image with definition and examples
Ownership refers to having possession of something. If I have ownership of a house, it means I am the owner; the house belongs to me.

People and other entities can gain ownership of property in the following ways:

  • By buying the property with money.
  • If somebody gives you something as a gift, you become its new owner.
  • You can be the owner of something if you won it in a bet.
  • When somebody bequeaths something to you, i.e., leaves something for you in their will, you assume ownership of it.
  • You can become the new owner of something if you receive it as damages.
  • If I make something and keep it, it is my possession.
  • In a barter system, one person trades something for something else. If I trade my goat for a ton of chopped wood, I lose possession of the animal and gain possession of the wood.
  • We can also become owners of something if we worked for it. For example, if somebody offers me some chickens for painting their house, I become the new owner of the chickens.

Losing ownership

We can just as easily cease being owners. For example, as a consequence of a foreclosure or seizure. A person may also lose possession of something following an eviction.

Additionally, we might lose something in a bet, bequeath it to a relative or friend, or simply give it away.

Ownership rights can also be diluted or lost through legal actions such as eminent domain, where the government takes private property for public use, typically providing compensation.

Exploring “Ownership” in Compound Nouns

There are many compound nouns containing the word “ownership” in the English language. A compound noun is a term that consists of two or more words. Here are six examples, each with a definition and a sentence to illustrate their use:

  • Homeownership

The state or condition of owning a home.
Example: “The government’s new policy is aimed at increasing homeownership among young adults.”

  • Co-ownership

Joint ownership, where two or more parties share the legal rights to a property or item.
Example: “They opted for co-ownership of the vacation house to reduce individual financial burdens.”

  • Landownership

The act, state, or right of owning land.
Example: “Landownership has historically been linked to wealth and social status.”

  • Intellectual Ownership

Legal ownership of an intellectual property such as an invention, design, or brand.
Example: “The artist fought a long legal battle to assert her intellectual ownership of the artwork.”

  • Pet Ownership

The state of owning a pet, with the attendant responsibilities and rights.
Example: “Responsible pet ownership involves regular visits to the vet and proper care.”

  • Vehicle Ownership

The state or condition of owning a vehicle, such as a car, bike, or boat.
Example: “With vehicle ownership comes the obligation to ensure it is maintained and operated safely.”

“Ownership” a derivative of “own”

The term “ownership” is a derivative of the word “own.” Let’s have a look at several derivatives of “own,” their meanings, and how we can use them in a sentence:

  • Own (verb)

To possess something as property; have legal rights to something.
Example: “She owns a small boutique in the city center.”

  • Disown (verb)

To refuse to acknowledge or maintain any connection with.
Example: “He was disowned by his family for his actions.”

  • Reown (verb)

To take ownership again or anew.
Example: “After the lease expired, she decided to reown her old car instead of buying a new one.”

  • Ownership (noun)

The state or fact of being an owner.
Example: “Ownership of the property was disputed by two parties.”

  • Owner (noun)

A person who owns something.
Example: “The owner of the lost dog offered a reward for its return.”

  • Co-owner (noun)

A person who jointly owns something with one or more people.
Example: “As co-owners of the property, they both had to sign the deed.”

  • Own (adjective)

Used to emphasize that something belongs or relates to a particular person or thing previously mentioned.
Example: “She baked her own bread.”

  • Ownerless (adjective)

Having no owner; not owned by anyone.
Example: “The ownerless boat drifted out to sea.”

  • Owningly (adverb)

As if possessing or acknowledging ownership.
Example: “He looked owningly at the painting that once belonged to his great-grandfather.”

Video – What is Ownership?

This educational video, from our YouTube partner channel – Marketing Business Network, explains what ‘Ownership’ is using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.