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[pos-ee] /ˈpɒs i/
a body or force armed with legal authority.
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] /ɪn ˈpɒs ɛ; English ɪn ˈpɒs i/
adverb, adjective, Latin.
in possibility; potentially (contrasted with in esse). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for posse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This cook, Steck, was captured by the posse behind the breastworks.

    History of 'Billy the Kid' Chas. A. Siringo
  • Therefore, none of the posse would have a point-blank shot at him.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • I'll be out here bright and early tomorrow morning with my posse, an' we'll take them fellers off'm your hands.

    Anderson Crow, Detective George Barr McCutcheon
  • The bullets of the posse had neither torn a tendon nor broken a bone.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • And where he ate the sheriff and his posse would likewise have to dine.

    The Highgrader William MacLeod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for posse


(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 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
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Slang definitions & phrases for posse



: 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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