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)

Keep scrolling for more

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

The marshal had been transporting prisoners through Knott County, Kentucky, when he was ambushed by a posse that was looking to free the moonshiners, Turk said. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "Slain Kentucky marshal honored over a century later in Texas," 27 July 2019 The truth was that Quichotte had almost no friends anymore—no social group, no cohort, no posse, no real pals—having long ago abandoned the social whirl. Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker, "The Little King," 22 July 2019 The royal posse, which also included Genevieve Hillis and Lindsay Roth, turned out for the Women’s Final. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "Meghan Markle's Wimbledon Hair Is A Look She Rarely Wears," 15 July 2019 With a loving wife and daughter, a career that motivates and inspires me, and a posse of friends that are my lifeline. NBC News, "How Pfizer's Sally Susman handled the interview question: 'What does your husband do?'," 18 June 2019 Several dozen men quickly formed a posse intent on killing the tiger, forestry officials said. Hari Kumar, BostonGlobe.com, "Tiger beaten to death on video, outraging India," 26 July 2019 Republicans tried to cast him as a figurehead who had no control over a posse of partisan assassins. Washington Post, "The blockbuster Mueller hearings that weren’t," 25 July 2019 Disenchanted: Guggenheim Entertainment presents the hit musical by Dennis T. Giacino featuring Snow White and a posse of disenchanted princesses. Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News, "San Jose community calendar for the week of July 19," 19 July 2019 Two cowboys, one of them the book’s narrator, drift into Bridger’s Wells, Nev., in 1885, where they’re swept up in a posse set on lynching a gang of cattle rustlers. WSJ, "Five Best: Christopher Knowlton on Westerns," 19 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about posse

Listen to Our Podcast about posse

Statistics for posse

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for posse

The first known use of posse was in 1645

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on posse

Rhyming Dictionary: 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).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!