- The definition of a possum, or opossum, is a tree-dwelling nocturnal marsupial with fur and a prehensile tail.
A small Australian mammal that lives in a tree and only comes out at night is an example of a possum.
possum definition by Webster's New World
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
possum definition by American Heritage Dictionary
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
noun Chiefly Southern U.S.
Origin: Short for opossum.Regional Note: Since English is a language that stresses some syllables and not others, weakly stressed syllables, especially those preceding strong stresses, are dropped at times. This process, called aphesis when it occurs at the beginning of a word, is more common in regional American dialects than in the more conservative Standard English, which tends to retain in pronunciation anything reflected in spelling. Although many American dialects feature aphesis, it is most famous in the dialects of the South, where it yields pronunciations such as count of for (on) account of, tater for potato, possum for opossum, and skeeter for mosquito.
possum - Phrases/Idioms
see play possum.
to pretend to be asleep, dead, ill, unaware, etc.: an opossum may become motionless when endangered