One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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
- ‘The challenge, therefore, was to vaccinate the nocturnal, tree-dwelling possums.’
- ‘The model in the center wears a possum fur coat to complete the look.’
- ‘It is what we, as carers of koalas, birds, possums, macropods (wallabies, kangaroos etc.) and other wildlife carers are trained to do.’
- ‘A large fat possum was caught in bright blue light, hissed and ran up the nearest tree.’
- ‘It is also my first chance to see the wonderfully unique wildlife here; kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, pademelons, possums, and various unique birds.’
- ‘The Plaintiff has a licence to take and hold brush tail possums from the Department of Parks Wildlife and Heritage in Tasmania.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘There are a variety of possums, early kangaroos, koalas, wombats and quolls, as well as marsupial groups that are now completely extinct.’
- ‘Maybe you would see koalas, wombats, echidnas, brush tail and ring tail possums and emus if you're lucky.’
- ‘We've got tiny little radios that we can put on the honey possums now.’
- ‘No, the aim is not to decimate the possum population.’
- ‘The last honey possum collected in the Perth metro area was in Shenton Park in 1941.’
- ‘The main predators which are depleting the bird population in native forest are possums, stoats, rats and mice.’
- ‘Like these bats, honey possums feed by probing flowers with their tongues.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘I followed his gaze and there on the eave of the neighbor's house sat a fat possum.’
- ‘Possum populations have been drastically reduced, resulting in significant improvements in forest health.’
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.’
- ‘When they stopped, the man was unconscious - or playing possum.’
- ‘‘It is not uncommon for a Marine to put rounds in the head of someone playing possum,’ he says.’
- ‘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?’
- ‘They quickly switched off the lights, played dead possum.’
- ‘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.
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