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

in posse

[in pos-e; English in pos-ee]

adverb, adjective Latin.

in possibility; potentially (contrasted with in esse).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for posse

detachment, band, throng, multitude, crowd, vigilante

Examples from the Web for posse

Contemporary Examples of posse

Historical Examples of posse

  • He had felt it before, when he watched the posse retreat with the body of Bill Dozier.

  • Therefore, none of the posse would have a point-blank shot at him.

  • The bullets of the posse had neither torn a tendon nor broken a bone.

  • The posse would plunge ahead, and he could cut in toward Los Toros.

  • Mali-ya-bwana and Simba set out with a posse of M'tela's men.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for posse



Also called: posse comitatus US 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 for posse

C16: from Medieval Latin (n): power, strength, from Latin (vb): to be able, have power

in posse


possible; potentialCompare in esse

Word Origin for in posse

Latin, literally: in possibility
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

Word Origin and History for posse

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