opossum

Definitions

  • Opossum vase: Arkansas.--2/3
    Opossum vase: Arkansas.--2/3
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n opossum nocturnal arboreal marsupial having a naked prehensile tail found from southern North America to northern South America
    • n opossum small furry Australian arboreal marsupials having long usually prehensile tails
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: When opossums are playing 'possum, they are not "playing." Theyactually pass out from sheer terror.
    • n Opossum (Zoöl) Any American marsupial of the genera Didelphys and Chironectes; called also possum. The common species of the United States is Didelphys Virginiana.☞ Several related species are found in South America. The water opossum of Brazil (Chironectes variegatus), which has the hind feet, webbed, is provided with a marsupial pouch and with cheek pouches. It is called also yapock.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: As a defense mechanism, the North American Opossum closes its eyes and becomes totally limp. Basically it plays dead
    • n opossum An American marsupial mammal of the family Didelphyidæ (which see for technical characters). They have the four kinds of teeth which carnivorous quadrupeds regularly possess (incisors, canines, premolars, and molars), and are omnivorous, eating flesh and carrion, reptiles, insects, and fruits. The head is conical, and the snout somewhat resembles that of a pig; the ears are large, leafy, and rounded; the eyes are small; the whiskers are long; the legs are of proportionate length; both fore and hind paws are five-toed, fashioned like hauds, especially the hind ones, which have an opposable thumb; and the tail is generally long, scaly, and prehensile, so that the animal can hang by it. The pelage is coarse; the body is stout, and in size ranges from that of a large cat to that of a small rat. Most female opossums have on the belly a pouch containing the teats, into which the young are received as soon as they are born. They are born extremely small and imperfect. The Virginia opossum has 13 teats, and no doubt may have as many young at a birth, but the number is usually less. Opossums are nocturnal animals; they move on the ground rather slowly and awkwardly, but are more at home in trees, and some of the species are aquatic. Though they are uncleanly, the flesh is white and palatable, especially in the autumn, when they feed much on fruits, and become as fat as pigs. They commonly appear stupid, and in confinement continue sullen and intractable. When caught or threatened with danger they feign death, and will submit to the most brutal maltreatment without showing a sign of animation, whence the proverbial expression “to play possum.” Most opossums belong to the genus Didelphys, ranging from middle latitudes in the United States through the greater part of South America. The commonest and best-known is D. virginiana. There are perhaps a dozen others, among them pouchless ones, as D. dorsigera. The yapoks or wateropossums of South America form another genus, Chironectes.
    • n opossum A name of sundry other marsupials: as, the ursine opossum (that is, the ursine dasyure); the vulpine opossum (the vulpine phalangist).
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Animal gestation periods: the shortest is the American opossum, which bears its young 12 to 13 days after conception; the longest is the Asiatic elephant, taking 608 days, or just over 20 months.
    • n Opossum o-pos′um a small American marsupial mammal, nocturnal, mainly arboreal, with prehensile tail: an Australian marsupial.
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Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Of N. American Indian origin
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
West Indian.

Usage

In literature:

Never mind, we have got meat for one day more, and we may trap an opossum or beaver, or perhaps Boxer may catch us something.
"With Axe and Rifle" by W.H.G. Kingston
Now a dingo or wild dog, now a toombat or opossum, made its appearance, and created matter of interest and inquiry.
"The Gilpins and their Fortunes" by William H. G. Kingston
We carried the opossum back to the camp, with three or four parrots which Kanimapo had shot.
"The Young Llanero" by W.H.G. Kingston
Mr Banks likewise captured an Australian opossum, a female, with two young ones.
"Captain Cook" by W.H.G. Kingston
During our stay we got enough opossum skins to make a fine eight-feet square rug.
"The Call Of The South" by Louis Becke
This time he changed himself into an opossum.
"Thirty Indian Legends" by Margaret Bemister
They killed kangaroos, opossums, a species of pole-cat, wolves, and various kinds of serpents, some of which were venomous.
"Celebrated Travels and Travellers" by Jules Verne
The chief occupants of the soil were the wild deer, turkeys, wolves, raccoons, opossums, with huge rattlesnakes to contest the intrusion.
"An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America" by J. P. MacLean
I once knew a family of opossums living in a stump in the center of a dense thicket.
"Edge of the Jungle" by William Beebe
Anybody but a fighter would have taken to a tree, like an opossum, run at last to shelter.
"Frank of Freedom Hill" by Samuel A. Derieux
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In poetry:

I love to gaze upon a child;
A young bud bursting into blossom;
Artless, as Eve yet unbeguiled,
And agile as a young opossum:
"Gemini And Virgo" by Charles Stuart Calverley
“He’ll grow as gentle as a fawn—
As quiet as the blossoms
That beautify a land of lawn—
He’ll eat no more opossums.
"Peter the Piccaninny" by Henry Kendall
As the small opossum held in pouch maternal
Grasps the nutrient organ whence the term mammalia,
So the unknown stranger held the wire electric,
Sucking in the current.
"De Sauty" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In news:

Police say they charged a Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead opossum along a highway.
Opossum 's Life Rapidly Goes From Awesome To Over With – January 6, 2010.
Keith Spera / The Times-Picayune A desperate opossum tries to escape Sophie's grasp at the Audubon Zoo.
View full size Jack O'Brien Jack O'Brien sent in a striped opossum from his photo archives.
The Miami Heat have, apparently, been playing opossum with us this entire season.
Jersey City police say man faces weapons charges after 3 am opossum hunt.
Cops stop his opossum hunt.
Last year around this time it was baby bunnies, today it was baby opossums.
Employees of the restaurant saw the snake in mid-July killing an opossum.
No, these rabbits, foxes, opossums and deer are made of ceramic , part of Buffalo State College student Michelle Sallander's ceramics thesis exhibition, titled "Predator/Prey.".
'Dead' opossum isn't dead, but it's not playing, either .
Earlier this year, Rochelle Hays of Oakley caught this opossum apparently exploring the blue plumbago in her backyard.
Raccoon and opossum sightings are down by 99 percent.
I'm talking about mice, opossums, skunks, raccoons, gophers and squirrels, without any implied offense to my cousin's cousin, Ralphie.
Jersey City police say man faces weapons charges after 3 am opossum hunt .
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In science:

One biological observation regarded as crucial support for the mutation accumulation hypothesis are the Virginia opossum.
The Penna Model of Biological Aging
Virginia opossums, minimum reproduction age and predators in the Penna aging model.
The Penna Model of Biological Aging
The pairing of the opossum spermatozoa enable them to swim more efficiently in very viscous fluids [169].
The hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms
Sperm pairing in the opossum increases the efficiency of sperm movement in a viscous environment.
The hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms
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