There is a line in the movie The Alamo by John Wayne's character Colonel Crockett talking to his men:

Davy Crockett: First, the young lady and I will take a pasear. Gather up your possibles and I'll meet up with you later.

He then leaves with the young lady, before sending her off and coming back to join his band to march to the Alamo. Possible as noun appears to mean "possibiliy", according to Oxford Online Dictionaries. But what does it mean here? Judging from the context, my hunch is that Crockett here is telling others to gather their things/belongings, but I can't find this meaning under possible.

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    More context might help, since you didn't say who he is speaking to, and what is going on with that character. But if were to paraphrase it: "Gather up the things/situations that you believe are possible and I'll meet up with you later."
    – user3169
    Aug 29, 2018 at 1:11

3 Answers 3


The word in this context is discussed at length on this radio show. The show is researched and presented by author/journalist Martha Barnette and lexicographer/linguist Grant Barrett.

It is explained that the term means "one's personal belongings" - specifically the things that you might take with you on a trip.

Evidently, the term was coined because it refers to things that you might "possibly need" on a trip, so it refers to essentials for the journey rather than all the possessions you have. Today, we might use the term "essentials" instead.


I can't find a good reference for this - just Wiktionary, which doesn't have a source for it - but it makes sense, fits context and is otherwise attested. Possibles, as an always-plural noun, is apparently American frontier jargon - from the era when there was much of a frontier - and means the essential personal equipment of a frontiersman.

Thus, in this case, he's saying "gather up your stuff".


I found this Collins dictionary definition might fit your context:

  1. singular noun

The possible is everything that can be done in a situation. He is a democrat with the skill, nerve, and ingenuity to push the limits of the possible.

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