possum

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play possum

1. To pretend to be dead; to play dead (typically so a predatory animal will lose interest and leave one alone). A reference to the involuntary defense mechanism of the North American opossum. If we encounter a bear in the woods, is it better to play possum or try to run?
2. By extension, to pretend to be asleep, inactive, or unaware as a means of avoiding someone or something. Josh just puts his head down and plays possum whenever the boss looks for someone to do a job for him. I played possum in my room when I heard my mom shouting about the broken lamp.
See also: play, possum

stir the possum

To instigate or propagate something controversial, incendiary, or divisive. Primarily heard in Australia. The MP has been accused of stirring the possum with her social media post about the evils of same-sex marriage. I know this is likely to stir the possum, but I have to say my piece about how spoilt and sheltered kids are today.
See also: possum, stir

play possum

Fig. to pretend to be inactive, unobservant, asleep, or dead. (The possum refers to an opossum.) I knew that Bob wasn't asleep. He was just playing possum. I can't tell if this animal is dead or just playing possum.
See also: play, possum

play possum

Pretend to be dead or asleep, as in Max always plays possum when it's time to clean up his room. This expression alludes to the fact that the opossum falls into an apparent coma when caught, giving the appearance of death. [1820s]
See also: play, possum

play possum

LITERARY
If someone plays possum, they try to make people ignore them by pretending to be dead or asleep. `Playing possum, huh?' said Joe. `Right,' said Frank. `I figured it might be interesting to hear what they had to say to each other when they thought I was unconscious.' Note: The possum or opossum is a North American and Australian animal. If it is threatened by another animal it sometimes lies still, as if it is dead, so that the animal will lose interest.
See also: play, possum

play possum

1 pretend to be asleep or unconscious when threatened. 2 feign ignorance.
This expression, recorded from the early 19th century in the USA, refers to the opossum's habit of feigning death when threatened or attacked (possum is an informal US term for an opossum).
See also: play, possum

stir the possum

stir up controversy; liven things up. Australian informal
See also: possum, stir

play ˈpossum

(informal) pretend to be asleep or not aware of something, in order to deceive somebody: Jake decided that his best course of action would be to play possum and wait for her to give up.
A possum is a small Australian and American animal that pretends to be dead when it is in danger.
See also: play, possum

play possum

To pretend to be sleeping or dead.
See also: play, possum
References in periodicals archive ?
As early as the 1870s Aborigines at Framlingham in western Victoria were 'accusing' brush-tail possums of killing trees.
As a PhD student in the early 1980s, Lindenmayer conducted a ground-breaking study of the habitat requirements of Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) in the lofty mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests of Victoria's Central Highlands.
tularensis infection in >2 ringtail possums associated with 2 mortality events in Sydney.
Naturally tanned possum fur products are ideal for sensitive skin and have a therapeutic effect when it comes to circulation, especially for the elderly and diabetics, and those suffering from arthritis.
com) Twitter users who posted about the raccoons and possums being the reason for Taft being on a lockdown didn't immediately come back to the mini blog to correct their tweets, but others soon over took the rumors, leading the social media site erupt with condolences for those who were involved in the shooting.
Up to 564 cat attack cases on ringtail possums have been reported in the last year alone, making up the biggest part of total cat attacks on wildlife.
Nostalgia aside, possum has a great deal to offer as a dietary staple.
Among field biologists, the white possum is famously easy to detect.
Follow my beauty regime possums and you'll never be cosmetically challenged
She even sleeps hanging upside down by her tail from a tree and pals around with two crazy possums (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck).
Along the way they meet Crash (William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck), cheeky possums who are adoptive brothers to Latifah's Ellie, a woolly mammoth who thinks she's a possum.
Possums and bird dogs: Australian Army Aviation's 161 Reconnaissance Flight in South Vietnam, Allen & Unwin Australia, ISBN: 9781741146356, paperback, 272 p.
She lost her family when she was young and was adopted and raised by a family of possums.