[ uh-pos-uh m, pos-uh m ]
/ əˈpɒs əm, ˈpɒs əm /

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.

Nearby words

  1. opium wars,
  2. opiumism,
  3. opm,
  4. opole,
  5. oporto,
  6. opossum block,
  7. opossum shrimp,
  8. opotherapy,
  9. opp.,
  10. oppeln

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for opossum

British Dictionary definitions for 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

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].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper