possum

A possum is a cat-sized nocturnal animal that's known for acting like it's dead when threatened. If you find a white animal with black eyes and ears in your garbage at night, it's probably a possum.

The word possum is an informal, regional variation on opossum that's only used in North America. It's especially common in the phrase "playing possum," which refers to the possum's involuntary reaction to fear or harm, falling into a death-like faint, and also to a person who pretends to be innocent. So you might accuse your younger brother, as he shrugs when you ask who ate the last brownie, of playing possum.

Definitions of possum
  1. noun
    nocturnal arboreal marsupial having a naked prehensile tail found from southern North America to northern South America
    synonyms: opossum
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    types:
    Didelphis marsupialis, Didelphis virginiana, common opossum
    omnivorous opossum of the eastern United States; noted for feigning death when in danger; esteemed as food in some areas; considered same species as the crab-eating opossum of South America
    crab-eating opossum
    South American opossum
    type of:
    marsupial, pouched mammal
    mammals of which the females have a pouch (the marsupium) containing the teats where the young are fed and carried
  2. noun
    small furry Australian arboreal marsupials having long usually prehensile tails
    synonyms: opossum, phalanger
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    types:
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    cuscus
    woolly-haired monkey-like arboreal marsupial of New Guinea and northern Australia
    Trichosurus vulpecula, brush-tailed phalanger
    bushy-tailed phalanger
    flying opossum, flying phalanger, flying squirrel
    nocturnal phalangers that move with gliding leaps using parachute-like folds of skin along the sides of the body
    Phascolarctos cinereus, kangaroo bear, koala, koala bear, native bear
    sluggish tailless Australian arboreal marsupial with grey furry ears and coat; feeds on eucalyptus leaves and bark
    flying mouse
    tiny flying phalanger
    type of:
    marsupial, pouched mammal
    mammals of which the females have a pouch (the marsupium) containing the teats where the young are fed and carried
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