opossum

play
noun opos·sum \(ə-)ˈpä-səm\

Definition of opossum

plural

opossums

also

opossum

  1. 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. 2 :  any of several Australian phalangers

Illustration of opossum

Origin and Etymology of opossum

earlier apossoun, opassom, Virginia Algonquian, from Algonquian *wa·p- white + *-aʔθemw- dog


First Known Use: 1610

Other Mammals Terms


OPOSSUM Defined for English Language Learners

opossum

play
noun opos·sum \(ə-)ˈpä-səm\

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

opossum

play
noun opos·sum \ə-ˈpä-səm\

Definition of opossum for Students

  1. :  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

What made you want to look up opossum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

related through a mother

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • m-ws-new-words-quiz
  • Which word means "inability to recognize faces"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ