Definition of opossum
1 : any of a family (Didelphidae) of small- to medium-sized American marsupials that usually have a pointed snout and nearly hairless scaly prehensile tail, are typically active at night, and are sometimes hunted for their fur or meat; especially : a common omnivorous (see omnivorous 1) largely nocturnal mammal (Didelphis virginiana) of North and Central America that is a skilled climber, that typically has a white face and grayish body and in the female a well-developed fur-lined pouch, and that when threatened may feign death by curling up the body and remaining motionless and unresponsive
2 : any of several Australian phalangers
Recent Examples of opossum from the Web
Because there was a possibility of rabies exposure, the officer euthanized the opossum for health department testing.
An opossum broke into a flower shop in Florida and hid behind the toilet.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opossum'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of opossum
earlier apossoun, opassom, borrowed from a Virginia Algonquian word of uncertain form, going back to Algonquian *wa·p- “white” + *-aʔθemw- “dog, small animal”
First Known Use: 1610
OPOSSUM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of opossum for English Language Learners
: a somewhat small white or gray animal that is usually active at night and that lives in North and South America and in Australia
OPOSSUM Defined for Kids
Definition of opossum for Students
: an American animal related to the kangaroo that has a long pointed snout, lives both on the ground and in trees, and is active at night
Seen and Heard
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