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opossum

[uh-pos-uh m, pos-uh m] /əˈpɒs əm, ˈpɒs əm/
noun, plural opossums (especially collectively) opossum.
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.
Compare possum.
Origin
Virginia Algonquian
1600-1610
1600-10, Americanism; < Virginia Algonquian (E spelling) opassom, opussum, aposoum (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *wa˙p- white + *-aʔθemw- dog)
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for opossum
  • But all of that doesn't matter much when, in utter joy, she puts her little opossum tail on vibrate.
  • Instead, the opossum uses its tail as a brace and a fifth limb when climbing.
British Dictionary definitions for opossum

opossum

/əˈpɒsəm/
noun (pl) -sums, -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 tail Sometimes (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
Word Origin
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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Word Origin and History for opossum
n.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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