Home » Segments » Possum vs. Opposum

Possum vs. Opposum

Play episode

Danielle from Wells, Vermont, wonders if there’s a difference between a possum and an opossum. Scientifically speaking, they’re two different animals. The word opossum comes from a similar-sounding Algonquian term that translates as “the white animal.” It’s easy to leave off that initial, unstressed O in opossum, which often happened quite early in the word’s borrowing into English. So either opossum or possum is correct for the North American animal, although possum is probably more widespread. Western explorers later brought the term possum to Australia, and applied it to a different marsupial there. This is part of a complete episode.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show


The Irish English word bockety describes someone who has difficulty walking, or something that’s fallen into a state of disrepair, as...