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 To show my appreciation for what my singing, baking and exercising friends have done for me lately, here is a loud and grateful shoutout to the pop-culture posse that keeps me upright and smiling. Karla Peterson Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Staying sane with a little help from ‘Nailed It!,’ Taylor Swift and Top 40 time travel," 30 Oct. 2020 Later that evening, a posse deputized by Orange County Sheriff Deputy Clyde Pounds and led by former Orlando police Chief Sam Salisbury went to Perry’s home, leading to a shootout. Desiree Stennett, orlandosentinel.com, "NAACP, ACLU ask governor to declare Ocoee Massacre day of remembrance," 28 Oct. 2020 Joey’s there with her posse: Tim, Tim’s wholesome sister Anna (Sydney Meyer), and swim team jerks Luke (Brian Altemus) and George. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "R29 Binge Club: Netflix’s Grand Army Recaps," 19 Oct. 2020 Sayeda was often trailed by a posse of younger children, her mother said. Smita Sharma, National Geographic, "Stolen lives: The harrowing story of two girls sold into sexual slavery," 28 Sep. 2020 After one particularly vicious attack, a shadowy posse formed and shot more than a dozen bears in their dens. Patrick Blanchfield, The New Republic, "The Town That Went Feral," 13 Oct. 2020 Brown goes on to lead an ad hoc posse of fighters, white and Black, to their doom—in an 1859 raid on a federal armory—when the slave uprising Brown envisions fails to materialize. John Jurgensen, WSJ, "How Ethan Hawke’s ‘The Good Lord Bird’ Let Fly an Irreverent Abolition Tale," 4 Oct. 2020 Even without this, new systems like the mounts just feel like they're designed for multiple friends to ride while making turkey-cowboy jokes to each other—or to fight over, should there not be enough turkeys for everybody in a posse. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Spelunky 2 game review: Roguelike perfection," 19 Sep. 2020 While news about the project spread in the elections world, Wallach started to assemble a posse. Benjamin Wofford, Wired, "A Texas County Clerk’s Bold Crusade to Transform How We Vote," 15 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for posse

Time Traveler

The first known use of posse was in 1645

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Statistics for posse

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Posse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/posse. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for posse


How to pronounce posse (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on posse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for posse

Britannica English: Translation of posse for Arabic Speakers

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