Definition of play possum in US English:

play possum

phrase

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

    • ‘Isn't that playing possum stuff supposed to protect them?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After a retrospective release the band finally relented after 28 years of playing possum.’
    • ‘‘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?’
    • ‘When they stopped, the man was unconscious - or playing possum.’
    • ‘They quickly switched off the lights, played dead 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.’