opossum

[ 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.
Compare possum.

Origin of opossum

1600–10, Americanism; < Virginia Algonquian (E spelling) opassom, opussum, aposoum (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *wa˙p- white + *-aʔθemw- dog)
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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

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