posse comitatus

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Late Latin posse (to be able (to have)) comitatus (a company).

Noun[edit]

posse comitatus (uncountable)

  1. (historical) The able-bodied men over 15 in a given county who can be summoned by the sheriff to help keep the peace, or arrest a felon; also a group of men so gathered.
  2. (figuratively) Any band of men, especially armed or hostile.
    • 1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, I:
      With him retired his ‘posse comitatus,’ / The attorney last, who linger'd near the door / Reluctantly [...].