Question by  Constance (11)

What is the proper spelling: opossum or possum?

I've seen it both ways.


Answer by  jsmith (2067)

The formal name of the animal is opossum. Using the term possum is a common colloquialism in American English, and is accepted as a proper spelling, in the sense that a nickname would still be considered proper spelling. Apparently the name opossum comes from a Native American word that roughly translates to "white dog."


Answer by  nuttree (1596)

The proper name for the American marsupial is "opossum." These animals are often called "possums," but that is just a shortened colloquial form of the proper name. However, there is also an Australian marsupial whose proper name is "possum." The possum resembles the opossum, but it is biologically distinct.

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