Etymology
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possum (n.)

American marsupial mammal, 1610s, shortened form of opossum (q.v.). It is nocturnal, omnivorous, and when caught or threatened with danger feigns death; hence the phrase play possum "feign death when threatened," attested by 1822.

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Definitions of possum

possum (n.)
nocturnal arboreal marsupial having a naked prehensile tail found from southern North America to northern South America;
Synonyms: opossum
possum (n.)
small furry Australian arboreal marsupials having long usually prehensile tails;
Synonyms: phalanger / opossum
From wordnet.princeton.edu