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

play possum, to

To pretend ignorance; to feign sleep or death. This term comes from the fact that opossums fall into a kind of coma when they are caught, appearing to be dead. Whether the animal is genuinely paralyzed by fear or is smart enough to dissemble has never been determined. The term originated in the United States in the early 1820s. An early use was Adiel Sherwood’s in A Gazetteer of the State of Georgia (1829): “He is playing ’possum with you.”
See also: play
References in periodicals archive ?
The type of impact depends on the herbivore, with possums becoming markedly more ground-active and frequently damaging or killing trees, and all herbivores inhibiting canopy tree seedling recruitment.
PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) is a non-profit research and education organization conducting upper-atmospheric and space technology research while communicating the science through educational outreach programs held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
So I find a shovel and slowly slide the blade under the drooling possum. As I do so, it just stands up as if it had other things to do -- crabapples to eat and grubs to slurp down.
Nineteen ticks (63.3%) obtained from trapped possums and all ticks obtained from the infected possum carcass were differentiated to genus or species level, as described in Table 3.
Multilocus phylogenetic analysis of Francisella tularensis isolates, including ringtail possum sequences from Australia.
The company added that it has already shipped the first order to Possum.
This combination of logging and wildfire threatens the remaining unburnt habitat of Victoria's faunal emblem, the endangered Lead-beater's possum. The 2009 Black Saturday wildfires burnt 45 per cent of the possum's mountain habitat.
"Good morning, it's possum day," someone says, as if he's waking you up for breakfast, or about to take you on a nature tour.
The study was conducted in a remote part of the northern South Island high country of New Zealand where possum control was imposed (using a single aerial poisoning operation) for the first time in 2008.
Possums in New Zealand are another example of unforeseen consequences.
Blood of a possum caught on a homemade sling, slaughtered with a shovel.
INTRODUCTION: The Portsmouth modification of Physiological and Operative Severity Score for the enumeration of Mortality and morbidity (P POSSUM) is a scoring system that is used to predict 30 day mortality and morbidity rates in patients who are undergoing surgery (1).
PARKS AND RECREATION, BBC4, 10pm and 10.20pm IN THE second of tonight's double bill, April's crush on shoe-shine boy Andy is tested when he becomes a media hero for capturing a possum.
playing possum, truly dead--lies on a heap of leavesalongside
Jones has taken three piano rags "Champagne Rag," "Possum and Taters," and "The Pippin" and skillfully set them for brass.