[ pos-uhm ]
See synonyms for possum on Thesaurus.com
  1. Australian. any of various phalangers, especially of the genus Trichosurus.

Idioms about possum

  1. play possum, Informal.

    • to feign sleep or death.

    • to dissemble or pretend ignorance: The baseball broke the window, but the children played possum when asked who had thrown it.

Origin of possum

1605–15, Americanism; short for opossum

Words Nearby possum

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use possum in a sentence

  • He was also called “possum,” because he looked like one, especially when he grinned.

  • Congress has been a dull place since he and his possum-shaped wig left for federal prison.

    The Case for Pardons | Tucker Carlson | December 1, 2008 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Why not, he asked himself, "play possum" with the man and the dog, and pretend to be badly hurt and unconscious?

    Motor Matt's "Century" Run | Stanley R. Matthews
  • It's more of a coma, something like the hibernation of a bear or a possum.

    Islands of Space | John W Campbell
  • Bruno, satis admirari non possum quid agas vt tot pecunias consumas.

    The Age of Erasmus | P. S. Allen
  • Davey slept peacefully on the bed among the grey 'possum furs she had wrapped round him.

    The Pioneers | Katharine Susannah Prichard
  • "Showing him the ring-tail 'possum's nest in the tree at the back of the cow-yard," she said eagerly.

    The Pioneers | Katharine Susannah Prichard

British Dictionary definitions for possum


/ (ˈpɒsəm) /

  1. an informal name for opossum (def. 1)

  2. Also called: phalanger Australian and NZ any of various Australasian arboreal marsupials, such as Trichosurus vulpecula (brush-tailed phalanger), having dense fur and a long tail: family Phalangeridae

  1. play possum to pretend to be dead, ignorant, asleep, etc, in order to deceive an opponent

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with possum


see play possum.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.