pos·​se | \ˈpä-sē \

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

Meantime, Daryl and Rosita, from the Hilltop posse, are spying on the Sanctuary. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "5 thoughts recapping Season 8, Episode 14 of 'The Walking Dead'," 2 Apr. 2018 Wade’s avatar, Parzival, collects a posse of fighters: Sho, Daito, Aech and Art3mis, who is also his love interest. A. O. Scott, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Ready Player One,’ Spielberg Plays the Nostalgia Game," 28 Mar. 2018 The posses provided locations for events and traffic control, while deputies handled the installations, according to the incident report. Rebekah L. Sanders, azcentral, "Sheriff's Office blamed in golf-cart death of Sun City West woman," 19 Mar. 2018 After the posse is finally allowed to go home, Stalin suffers a stroke. Kenneth Turan, latimes.com, "'The Death of Stalin' mines horrific history for satirical laughs," 8 Mar. 2018 Samuel Grider spent 20 years with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office posse, had a career in the military and stints as a private investigator and state law enforcer. Jason Pohl, azcentral, "From missing to legally dead: The search for Sheriff's Office posse member Sam Grider," 12 Jan. 2018 The posses that are out there dealing with the zombies can’t recognize him as fully human. Jef Rouner, Houston Chronicle, "‘Night of the Living Dead’: What a zombie classic says about death in America," 3 July 2018 Ernest Thomas, 25, escaped custody and was killed by a posse that shot him more than 400 times. Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin were both 22 and World War II veterans. Hal Boedeker, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'Groveland Four': A story every Central Floridian should know," 27 June 2018 And Candace was part of that posse with Jay McInerney and Morgan. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "It’s an It Girl! The Birth of ‘Sex and the City’," 6 June 2018

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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Statistics for posse

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for posse

The first known use of posse was in 1645

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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


pos·​se | \ˈpä-sē \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on posse

See words that rhyme with posse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for posse

Spanish Central: Translation of posse

Britannica English: Translation of posse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on posse

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


playful or foolish behavior

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