noun pos·se \ˈpä-sē\

Definition of posse

  1. 1 :  a large group often with a common interest

  2. 2 :  a body of persons summoned by a sheriff to assist in preserving the public peace usually in an emergency

  3. 3 :  a group of people temporarily organized to make a search (as for a lost child)

  4. 4 :  entourage 1

posse was our Word of the Day on 10/10/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of posse in a sentence

  1. The sheriff and his posse rode out to look for the bandits.

  2. I went to the game with my posse.

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.

Origin and Etymology of posse

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

First Known Use: 1645

POSSE Defined for English Language Learners


noun pos·se \ˈpä-sē\

Definition of posse for English Language Learners

  • : 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

POSSE Defined for Kids


noun pos·se \ˈpä-sē\

Definition of posse for Students

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

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up posse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


quaintly unconventional or refined

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • ludwig-richter-spring-has-arrived
  • Which is a synonym of upbraid?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.