Definition of possum in English:

possum

Line breaks: pos¦sum
Pronunciation: /ˈpɒsəm
 
/

noun

  • 1A tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial that typically has a prehensile tail.
    • Four families, especially Petauridae: many species, including the ringtails
    More example sentences
    • It is what we, as carers of koalas, birds, possums, macropods (wallabies, kangaroos etc.) and other wildlife carers are trained to do.
    • Maybe you would see koalas, wombats, echidnas, brush tail and ring tail possums and emus if you're lucky.
    • In Tasmania we have such a huge amount of wildlife: brush tail possums, all sorts of animals that at a glimpse, at a distance in poor light or whatever, can appear to be a fox.
  • 1.1North American informal An opossum.
    More example sentences
    • A favourite southern dish is possum and taters: the opossum is parboiled, then salted and peppered and roasted in a pan with peeled, roasted sweet potatoes.

Phrases

play possum

  • 1Pretend to be asleep or unconscious (as an opossum does when threatened).
    More example sentences
    • Today I did washing at home in my washing machine, on the off-chance that it'd just been playing possum, and lo and behold, it worked just fine.
    • After a retrospective release the band finally relented after 28 years of playing possum.
    • Isn't that playing possum stuff supposed to protect them?
  • 2Feign ignorance.
    More example sentences
    • He has obviously decided to put the boot in, knowing that the majority of unions have played possum for so long now on so much.

Origin

early 17th century: shortening of opossum.

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