One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial that typically has a prehensile tail.
Four families, especially Petauridae: many species, including the ringtails
- ‘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.’
- ‘The main predators which are depleting the bird population in native forest are possums, stoats, rats and mice.’
- ‘The model in the center wears a possum fur coat to complete the look.’
- ‘Maybe you would see koalas, wombats, echidnas, brush tail and ring tail possums and emus if you're lucky.’
- ‘The Plaintiff acquires brush tail possums - which are harvested in this State.’
- ‘Many of these products come with a label that reads, " Thank you for buying possum fur.’
- ‘Only through world wide marketing of possum fur products can this pest be safely controlled.’
- ‘We've got tiny little radios that we can put on the honey possums now.’
- ‘The last honey possum collected in the Perth metro area was in Shenton Park in 1941.’
- ‘Leonie Lamont found a dead possum in the car park which had fallen out of its tree overnight.’
- ‘I followed his gaze and there on the eave of the neighbor's house sat a fat possum.’
- ‘The challenge, therefore, was to vaccinate the nocturnal, tree-dwelling possums.’
- ‘A large fat possum was caught in bright blue light, hissed and ran up the nearest tree.’
- ‘Like these bats, honey possums feed by probing flowers with their tongues.’
- ‘There are a variety of possums, early kangaroos, koalas, wombats and quolls, as well as marsupial groups that are now completely extinct.’
- ‘It is what we, as carers of koalas, birds, possums, macropods (wallabies, kangaroos etc.) and other wildlife carers are trained to do.’
- ‘It is also my first chance to see the wonderfully unique wildlife here; kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, pademelons, possums, and various unique birds.’
- ‘Possum populations have been drastically reduced, resulting in significant improvements in forest health.’
- ‘No, the aim is not to decimate the possum population.’
- 1.1North 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.’
1Pretend to be asleep or unconscious (as an opossum does when threatened).
- ‘They quickly switched off the lights, played dead possum.’
- ‘Isn't that playing possum stuff supposed to protect them?’
- ‘When they stopped, the man was unconscious - or playing possum.’
- ‘After a retrospective release the band finally relented after 28 years of playing possum.’
- ‘But is he down in a prone shooting position and only wounded, playing possum again?’
- ‘‘It is not uncommon for a Marine to put rounds in the head of someone playing possum,’ he says.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘‘I played possum,’ he said with a sheepish smile.’
- ‘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.’
stir the possum
informal Excite interest or controversy.‘an article on hypocrisy would stir the possum’
Early 17th century: shortening of opossum.
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