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[pos-ee] /ˈpɒs i/
a body or force armed with legal authority.
Slang. a group of friends or associates:
hanging out with your posse; a posse of drug dealers.
Origin of posse
1575-85; < Medieval Latin posse power, force, noun use of L infinitive: to be able, have power, equivalent to pot- (see potent1) + -se infinitive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for posses
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the common people of his Gens did not posses that power.

  • I aim to get back in time to join one of the posses in their hunt for the outlaws.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • Mr. Manning's got posses out and will start more at daylight.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • The expenses of posses were to be charged against the county.

  • Don't you know we just got in from hunting you—two posses of us been out all night?

    The Yukon Trail

    William MacLeod Raine
  • posses went in every direction, and not a stone was left unturned.

    The Red Record Ida B. Wells-Barnett
  • posses had been out all night, and a fresh one was just starting from Noches.

    Mavericks William MacLeod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for posses


(US) Also called posse comitatus. the able-bodied men of a district assembled together and forming a group upon whom the sheriff may call for assistance in maintaining law and order
(law) possibility (esp in the phrase in posse)
(slang) a Jamaican street gang in the US
(informal) a group of friends or associates
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin (n): power, strength, from Latin (vb): to be able, have power
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for posses



1640s (in Anglo-Latin from early 14c.), shortening of posse comitatus "the force of the county" (1620s, in Anglo-Latin from late 13c.), from Medieval Latin posse "body of men, power," from Latin posse "have power, be able" (see potent) + comitatus "of the county," genitive of Late Latin word for "court palace" (see comitatus). Modern slang meaning "small gang" is probably from Western movies.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for posses



: I thought posses were Jamaican. Language changes very fast here, now it just means a small gang

[1980s+ Black teenagers; probably fr the sheriff's posse seen so often in cowboy movies]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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