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opossum

[ uh-pos-uhm, pos-uhm ]
/ əˈpɒs əm, ˈpɒs əm /
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noun, plural o·pos·sums, (especially collectively) o·pos·sum.

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.
any of various animals of related genera.

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Also called possum.

Origin of opossum

First recorded in 1600–10, Americanism; from Virginia Algonquian (English spelling) opassom, opussum, aposoum (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian (unattested) wa˙p- “white” + (unattested) -aʔθemw- “dog”)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for opossum

opossum
/ (əˈpɒsəm) /

noun plural -sums or -sum

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
Also called (Austral and NZ): possum any of various similar animals, esp the phalanger, Trichosurus vulpecula, of the New Zealand bush
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
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