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

Last month, Netflix released a minute-long teaser for El Camino, which focused on another member of Jesse’s posse: Skinny Pete (Charles Baker). Dan Snierson, EW.com, "Breaking Bad movie: Matt Jones to return as Badger," 17 Sep. 2019 It was widely used by authorities to legally form posses to hunt outlaws. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "It’s no longer a crime in California not to help a police officer," 5 Sep. 2019 Search efforts focused on the Uncompahgre Plateau included fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, volunteers and a Montrose County sheriff’s posse. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Missing Western Slope man, 82, found along San Miguel River by grandson in kayak," 5 Sep. 2019 Arpaio also touted his volunteer posse investigation into the authenticity of then-President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Washington Post, "Arpaio makes comeback bid for sheriff’s post he lost in 2016," 28 Aug. 2019 There's no room for a baleful Bozo when our most sane clown may be the dancing one killing children in Derry and our most insane clowns have formed a posse. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: The End of 'Baskets' and the Struggle of Loving Niche TV," 22 Aug. 2019 Surveillance video captured the moment when a posse of heavily armed home invaders broke down the backdoor to a League City home – and the moment when one of them flopped into a pool during their escape. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Home invasion suspect falls into pool after League City break-in, criminal group remains at large," 6 Sep. 2019 In the music video from the same year, Lizzo and a posse of black ladies get their hair tossed and done up to celebrate being done with men who don’t deserve them. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Here Are the Lyrics to Lizzo's 'Good as Hell'," 4 Sep. 2019 He was accompanied by a small posse and a TMZ staffer peppering him with questions. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Ex-Warrior Kevin Durant spied walking in West Hollywood — without crutches," 1 Aug. 2019

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

28 Sep 2019

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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
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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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

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involving a confidence or trust

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