• synonyms


[uh-pos-uh m, pos-uh m]
See more synonyms for opossum on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural o·pos·sums, (especially collectively) o·pos·sum.
  1. a prehensile-tailed marsupial, Didelphis virginiana, of the eastern U.S., the female having an abdominal pouch in which its young are carried: noted for the habit of feigning death when in danger.
  2. any of various animals of related genera.
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Compare possum.

Origin of opossum

1600–10, Americanism; < Virginia Algonquian (E spelling) opassom, opussum, aposoum (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *wa˙p- white + *-aʔθemw- dog)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for opossum

wombat, koala, kangaroo, possum, opossum, wallaby, bandicoot, euro

Examples from the Web for opossum

Historical Examples of opossum

  • A little higher in the scale stand the kangaroo and the opossum.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • Among mammals, the best-known example is probably the Opossum.

  • The opossum is famous for carrying its young in a pouch in front of the body.

    Boy Scouts Handbook

    Boy Scouts of America

  • It had a gray coat, and a tapering muzzle like that of an opossum.

  • The next day, to our great satisfaction, the Opossum hove in sight.

    Salt Water

    W. H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for opossum


noun plural -sums or -sum
  1. any thick-furred marsupial, esp Didelphis marsupialis (common opossum), of the family Didelphidae of S North, Central, and South America, having an elongated snout and a hairless prehensile tailSometimes (informal) shortened to: possum
  2. Also called (Austral and NZ): possum any of various similar animals, esp the phalanger, Trichosurus vulpecula, of the New Zealand bush
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Word Origin for opossum

C17: from Algonquian aposoum; related to Delaware apässum, literally: white beast
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for opossum


1610, from Powhatan (Algonquian) opassum, "equivalent to a proto-Algonquian term meaning 'white dog'" [Bright].

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper