Opossum
Posted: 28 September 2011 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I always, always, bloody always, assumed this word was related somehow to opposite, perhaps because these marsupials hang upside-down sometimes.

In fact it is from the Algonquian meaning “white animal”. How wrong can you be?

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Posted: 28 September 2011 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve seen it spelled as o’possum and thought the practice arose from seeing it as ‘possum when the “o” is left off.  It’s [from] a native North American language word. 

Wikipedia suggests:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opossum

...The word opossum comes from the Proto-Algonquian aposoum, pronounced *wa˙p- aʔθemw, meaning “white dog” or “white beast/animal”. ...

Interestingly, there are some special terms listed here:

male ~~ jack

female ~~ jill

baby ~~ joey

group ~~ passel

voice (call) ~~ hiss; growl; purr

It seems as if these terms are for all marsupials.  The words sound Australian to my tender Leftpondian ear.

[ Edited: 28 September 2011 08:34 AM by sobiest ]
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