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).


a mode of satirical wit

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • manet-jeanne-spring
  • Which is a synonym of chaffer?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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