pos·​se | \ ˈpä-sē How to pronounce posse (audio) \

Definition of posse

1 : a large group often with a common interest
2 : a body of persons summoned by a sheriff to assist in preserving the public peace usually in an emergency
3 : 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.

Examples of posse in a Sentence

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 Just then, Kanye West strolls past the restaurant, surrounded by a posse of masked men, and everyone turns, trying to snap a photo. Brock Colyar, Vulture, 24 Nov. 2021 Thomas was killed by a posse that shot him more than 400 times shortly after the rape accusation. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 24 Nov. 2021 All four died decades ago, including Thomas shot to death July 26, 1949, by an armed posse before he was arrested. Stephen Hudak, orlandosentinel.com, 22 Nov. 2021 Thomas was killed by a posse when he was shot more than 400 times. Fox News, 22 Nov. 2021 Lil Nas X, in a Tom Ford lime green sequin shirt (open to the waist naturally) and acetate jeans, declined, preferring to hang out at the bar with his posse. Rachel Marlowe, Vogue, 3 Dec. 2021 Prince Charles moved more slowly, and with a smaller posse. Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2021 The next morning, Craig’s grandmother Debbie Steiner headed out with a small search posse, made up of a half-dozen friends and kin. Craig Silverman, ProPublica, 22 Sep. 2021 For KawaiiValentine, the communal experience that comes from creating a posse is definitely a stand out element. Paige Lyman, Wired, 7 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'posse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of posse

1645, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for posse

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

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Dictionary Entries Near posse



posse comitatus

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Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Posse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/posse. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for posse



English Language Learners Definition of posse

: a group of people who were gathered together by a sheriff in the past to help search for a criminal
: a group of people who are together for a particular purpose
: a group of friends : gang


pos·​se | \ ˈpä-sē How to pronounce posse (audio) \

Kids Definition of posse

: a group of people gathered together to make a search and especially in the past to search for a criminal

More from Merriam-Webster on posse

Britannica English: Translation of posse for Arabic Speakers


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