pos·​se ˈpä-sē How to pronounce posse (audio)
: a large group often with a common interest
: a body of persons summoned by a sheriff to assist in preserving the public peace usually in an emergency
: a group of people temporarily organized to make a search (as for a lost child)

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Posse started out as a technical term in law, part of the term "posse comitatus," which in Medieval Latin meant power or authority of the county. As such, it referred to a group of citizens summoned by a sheriff to preserve the public peace as allowed for by law. "Preserving the public peace" so often meant hunting down a supposed criminal that "posse" eventually came to mean any group organized to make a search or embark on a mission. In even broader use it can refer to any group, period. Sometimes nowadays that group is a gang or a rock band but it can as easily be any group - of politicians, models, architects, tourists, children, or what have you - acting in concert.

Example Sentences

The sheriff and his posse rode out to look for the bandits. I went to the game with my posse.
Recent Examples on the Web The response from a manager and a bartender toward dinner’s end was to introduce my posse to a Chinese spirit poised to make an appearance on the menu: clear firewater, potent as grappa, poured from a red-and-gold flask into thimble-size shot glasses. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023 The judge was more lenient with Goss, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to posses with intent to distribute cocaine, and was sentenced to five years’ probation. Benoît Morenne, WIRED, 9 Mar. 2023 There's nothing quite like a posse of zombie back-up dancers. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, 22 June 2022 Swift, 33, rocked a black minidress with spaghetti straps and black shoes and sunglasses as she and her posse were photographed walking down the street. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 21 Apr. 2023 This beleaguered individual arrives at games with a straggling multi-generational posse, 10 chairs, a picnic table, a blanket the size of Monaco, board games, a mesh tent, and a small portable toilet, quickly forming a delicate ecosystem without regard for others’ personal space. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, 14 Apr. 2023 And after Bogart signed Bill Withers, did Berry Gordy really send around a posse of hoods to threaten Bogart with guns? Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Apr. 2023 Eating the construction, the Italian Americans in my posse get sentimental. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2023 Durant was supposed to be the new sheriff in town, the loner who could organize these guys into a posse of gunslingers to clear out the wild West. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, 11 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'posse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Medieval Latin posse comitatus, literally, power or authority of the county

First Known Use

1645, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of posse was in 1645


Dictionary Entries Near posse

Cite this Entry

“Posse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/posse. Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pos·​se ˈpäs-ē How to pronounce posse (audio)
: a group of people called upon by a sheriff for help (as in pursuit of a criminal)
: a number of people organized to make a search (as for a lost child)

More from Merriam-Webster on posse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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