Definition of opossum in English:



  • 1An American marsupial which has a naked prehensile tail and hind feet with an opposable thumb.

    • ‘A farmer looking through the fields before harvesting his crop sees rabbits, opossums, mice, rats, birds, foxes, skunks and snakes.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, creatures that benefit from living around people follow them into disturbed areas, including opossums, raccoons, pigeons and dumpster-diving rats.’
    • ‘Crickets are eaten by small owls, birds, snakes, mice, frogs, raccoons, opossums and many other creatures.’
    • ‘Primitively clumsy and slow, with conical heads and pointed pink noses, sparse gray fur and naked ears, mature opossums reach the size of house cats (about ten pounds).’
    • ‘As forests become chopped up into ever smaller chunks, the amount of ‘edge’ habitat increases for predators such as blue jays, crows, raccoons, opossums, feral cats, black rat snakes, and others that prey upon birds or their eggs.’
    • ‘Skunks, foxes, weasels, opossums and rabbits all use groundhog burrows for their dens.’
    • ‘Scientists say this mammal is the oldest known fossil ancestor of modern marsupials - which include opossums, kangaroos, and koalas.’
    • ‘He goes behind the fields and starts to trap opossums, skunks, rabbits, and squirrels.’
    • ‘Oh, that story with the opossums is a true story.’
    • ‘In Florida's Marion County, Interstate 75 cuts right through a state-long swath of greenway that's habitat for bobcats, opossums, and armadillos.’
    • ‘All kinds of critters like to dine on poultry, including raccoons, skunks, opossums, weasels, foxes, coyotes, dogs and feral cats.’
    • ‘Even though we're on the edge of a major city, our yard is populated by a variety of mice, moles, squirrels, chipmunks and opossums.’
    • ‘There are more than 250 species of birds, in an island just 26 miles long and seven miles wide, and animals from armadillos and agoutis to racoons and opossums.’
    • ‘The opossum sleeps 19 hours out of every 24 and the giraffe sleeps only about 2.’
    • ‘Many of the animals intentionally introduced to new habitats have been herbivorous mammals, including goats, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, monkeys, deer, wallabies, opossums, and squirrels.’
    • ‘Marsupials, such as the opossums of the Americas and the kangaroos, koalas, and wombats of Australasia, generally give birth to tiny immature young which then complete their developments in a pouch.’
    • ‘That's when the animals are most active and it's fun to see the deer, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and birds.’
    • ‘The mammals the researchers studied were the platypus, echidna, opossum, wallaby, hedgehog, mouse, rat, rabbit, cow, pig, bat, tree shrew, colugo, ringtail lemur, and humans.’
    • ‘Don't put out any more seed than can be eaten by the birds by nightfall, especially where raccoons, opossums, deer, or rodents are a problem.’
    • ‘Many species of warblers sensitive to forest fragmentation live there, too, along with beavers, muskrats, deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, and other four-legged animals.’
    1. 1.1Australian, NZ A possum.
      • ‘On Terra these include kangaroos, wallabies, bandicoots, opossums, and wombats.’
      • ‘I remember looking at some work being done in Tasmania, on opossums who were very, very young.’
      • ‘A scrawny opossum foraged along the road, scampering toward the woods when I tried to take its picture.’
      • ‘As well as performing amazing movement-restoring surgery on spine damaged opossums, Dr Norman Sauders has built a sailing simulator which he'll be demonstrating at the Sydney Boat Show in August.’
      • ‘Rabbits and opossums, which were okayed by the Government of the time, have had an enormous and destructive impact on our environment.’


Early 17th century: from Virginia Algonquian opassom, from op white + assom dog.