Definition of possum in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpäsəm/ /ˈpɑsəm/


  • 1North American informal An opossum.

    ‘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.’
  • 2A tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial that typically has a prehensile tail.

    Four families, especially Petauridae: many species, including the ringtails

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Plaintiff has a licence to take and hold brush tail possums from the Department of Parks Wildlife and Heritage in Tasmania.’
    • ‘It is also my first chance to see the wonderfully unique wildlife here; kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, pademelons, possums, and various unique birds.’
    • ‘There are a variety of possums, early kangaroos, koalas, wombats and quolls, as well as marsupial groups that are now completely extinct.’
    • ‘The challenge, therefore, was to vaccinate the nocturnal, tree-dwelling possums.’
    • ‘The main predators which are depleting the bird population in native forest are possums, stoats, rats and mice.’
    • ‘We've got tiny little radios that we can put on the honey possums now.’
    • ‘Like these bats, honey possums feed by probing flowers with their tongues.’
    • ‘The last honey possum collected in the Perth metro area was in Shenton Park in 1941.’
    • ‘The model in the center wears a possum fur coat to complete the look.’
    • ‘Only through world wide marketing of possum fur products can this pest be safely controlled.’
    • ‘Many of these products come with a label that reads, " Thank you for buying possum fur.’
    • ‘I followed his gaze and there on the eave of the neighbor's house sat a fat possum.’
    • ‘A large fat possum was caught in bright blue light, hissed and ran up the nearest tree.’
    • ‘Leonie Lamont found a dead possum in the car park which had fallen out of its tree overnight.’
    • ‘The Plaintiff acquires brush tail possums - which are harvested in this State.’
    • ‘Possum populations have been drastically reduced, resulting in significant improvements in forest health.’
    • ‘No, the aim is not to decimate the possum population.’


    play possum
    • 1Pretend to be asleep or unconscious when threatened (in imitation of an opossum's behavior).

      • ‘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?’
      • ‘‘It is not uncommon for a Marine to put rounds in the head of someone playing possum,’ he says.’
      • ‘But is he down in a prone shooting position and only wounded, playing possum again?’
      • ‘‘I played possum,’ he said with a sheepish smile.’
      • ‘They quickly switched off the lights, played dead possum.’
      • ‘When they stopped, the man was unconscious - or playing possum.’
    • 2Feign ignorance.

      ‘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.’


Early 17th century shortening of opossum.



/ˈpäsəm/ /ˈpɑsəm/