opos·​sum | \ ə-ˈpä-səm How to pronounce opossum (audio) , ˈpä-səm How to pronounce opossum (audio) \
plural opossums also opossum

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 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

Illustration of opossum

Illustration of opossum

opossum 1

Examples of opossum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web President Herbert Hoover, Coolidge’s successor, adopted the opossum and named him Billy. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2022 Three of the candidates—the dwarf squirrel, the tamandua, and the Robinson’s mouse opossum—made mere cameos, flashing across the screen without interacting with the pseudoparasitica cones. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 1 Apr. 2022 Before and during the Oakland Athletics’ game against the Minnesota Twins at the Coliseum on Monday, several sightings of an opossum were reported in the press box and TV/radio booths. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2022 Weighing in at less than 2 ounces, this small opossum has been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Apr. 2022 The attack left the momma opossum with injuries on her back legs, which affected her ability to walk. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, 8 Apr. 2022 The Central American woolly opossum and the kinkajou, too, were a bit blasé. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 1 Apr. 2022 Regular raccoon and opossum hunting will resume again Nov. 8, 2022 and end Jan. 31, 2023. Alexi Eastes, The Indianapolis Star, 25 Feb. 2022 An opossum in Kentucky named Kewpie is relearning how to walk thanks to a new custom wheelchair. Dan Heching, PEOPLE.com, 24 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of opossum

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for opossum

earlier apossoun, opassom, borrowed from a Virginia Algonquian word of uncertain form, going back to Algonquian *wa·p- "white" + *-aʔθemw- "dog, small animal"

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Time Traveler for opossum

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The first known use of opossum was in 1610

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Dictionary Entries Near opossum



opossum mouse

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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Opossum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opossum. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for opossum


opos·​sum | \ ə-ˈpä-səm How to pronounce opossum (audio) \

Kids Definition of opossum

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on opossum

Nglish: Translation of opossum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about opossum


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