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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Did You Know?

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 And there’s the reaction video — MrBeast has a posse of blundering childhood friends who participate in his stunts and generally play the role of hype men. Mark Bergen, Bloomberg.com, "The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code," 22 Dec. 2020 On a summer day in 2016, a posse of men surrounded Lu Yuyu on a street in China’s southwestern city of Dali. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "‘Their Goal Is to Make You Feel Helpless’: In Xi’s China, Little Room for Dissent," 27 Nov. 2020 No member of the royal family can move out of Sandringham without a posse of pressmen surrounding them. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth's Press Secretary Michael Shea Led the Royal Family Through Multiple Crises," 27 Nov. 2020 State police detectives learned from Springfield police that the Knox Street gang and Sycamore Street posse had a bitter and violent feud. Nicholas Rondinone, courant.com, "Reputed Springfield gang member held on $2M bond for Manchester commuter lot shooting that killed two," 23 Nov. 2020 The legalistic but impotent town council, the idealistic but outgunned sodbusters, or the incompetent posse in desperation turns to unconventional deliverance. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Will Trump Ride Off into the Sunset?," 12 Nov. 2020 Gerwig plays one of a posse of women who help a single mom (Annette Bening) raise her son in the confusing late 1970s. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "Now's the perfect time to catch up with inventive writer/director/actor Greta Gerwig," 26 Aug. 2020 To show my appreciation for what my singing, baking and exercising friends have done for me lately, here is a loud and grateful shoutout to the pop-culture posse that keeps me upright and smiling. Karla Peterson Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Staying sane with a little help from ‘Nailed It!,’ Taylor Swift and Top 40 time travel," 30 Oct. 2020 Later that evening, a posse deputized by Orange County Sheriff Deputy Clyde Pounds and led by former Orlando police Chief Sam Salisbury went to Perry’s home, leading to a shootout. Desiree Stennett, orlandosentinel.com, "NAACP, ACLU ask governor to declare Ocoee Massacre day of remembrance," 28 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for posse

Time Traveler

The first known use of posse was in 1645

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Statistics for posse

Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Posse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/posse. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for posse


How to pronounce posse (audio)

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
informal : a group of people who are together for a particular purpose
informal : a group of friends


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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for posse

Britannica English: Translation of posse for Arabic Speakers

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