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Derived from opossum by apheresis.


a brushtail possum in Australia


possum ‎(plural possums)

  1. (US) An opossum, a marsupial of the family Didelphidae of the Americas.
  2. Any of the marsupials in several families of the order Diprotodontia of Australia and neighboring islands.


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From potis ‎(able, capable) + sum ‎(I am).



possum ‎(present infinitive posse, perfect active potuī); irregular conjugation, no passive

  1. I am able, can
    Tunc, modo edere non potuit.
    At that time, he just hasn't been able to eat.
    Possum Latine loqui.
    I am able to speak in Latin.
    Potesne mihi succurrere, quaeso?
    Can you help me please?
    Si probare possemus Ligarium in Āfricā omnino non fuisse.
    If we could prove that Ligarius was not at all in Africa.


This verb is irregular, but resembles sum prefixed with pot-. Several contractions and simplifications occur, however: -ts- > -ss-, -tf- > -t-, -tess- > -ss-.

   Conjugation of possum (highly irregular, suppletive, active only)
indicative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present possum potes potest possumus potestis possunt
imperfect poteram poterās poterat poterāmus poterātis poterant
future poterō poteris, potere poterit poterimus poteritis poterunt
perfect potuī potuistī potuit potuimus potuistis potuērunt, potuēre
pluperfect potueram potuerās potuerat potuerāmus potuerātis potuerant
future perfect potuerō potueris potuerit potuerimus potueritis potuerint
subjunctive singular plural
first second third first second third
active present possim possīs possit possīmus possītis possint
imperfect possem possēs posset possēmus possētis possent
perfect potuerim potuerīs potuerit potuerīmus potuerītis potuerint
pluperfect potuissem potuissēs potuisset potuissēmus potuissētis potuissent
non-finite forms active passive
present perfect future present perfect future
infinitives posse potuisse
participles potēns


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  • possum in Charlton T. Lewis & Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • possum in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • possum” in Félix Gaffiot (1934), Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Paris: Hachette.
  • Meissner, Carl; Auden, Henry William (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to give a man the opportunity of doing a thing: facultatem alicui dare alicuius rei or ut possit...
    • I cannot make myself believe that..: non possum adduci, ut (credam)
    • I cannot bring myself to..: a me impetrare non possum, ut
    • he is a young man of great promise: adulescens alios bene de se sperare iubet, bonam spem ostendit or alii de adulescente bene sperare possunt
    • I have exhausted all my material: copiam quam potui persecutus sum
    • movable, personal property: res, quae moveri possunt; res moventes (Liv. 5. 25. 6)
    • to isolate a witness: aliquem a ceteris separare et in arcam conicere ne quis cum eo colloqui possit (Mil. 22. 60)
    • men of military age: qui arma ferre possunt or iuventus
    • men exempt from service owing to age: qui per aetatem arma ferre non possunt or aetate ad bellum inutiles
    • by the longest possible forced marches: quam maximis itineribus (potest)
    • this can be said of..., applies to..: hoc dici potest de aliqua re
    • this can be said of..., applies to..: hoc transferri potest in aliquid
    • I cannot find words for..: dici vix (non) potest or vix potest dici (vix like non always before potest)
    • without wishing to boast, yet..: quod vere praedicare possum
    • that is self-evident, goes without saying: hoc facile intellegi potest
    • from this it appears, is apparent: ex quo intellegitur or intellegi potest, debet
    • (ambiguous) to be scarcely able to restrain one's laughter: risum tenere vix posse
    • (ambiguous) to be scarcely able to restrain one's laughter: risum aegre continere posse
    • (ambiguous) to be hardly able to restrain one's tears: lacrimas tenere non posse
    • (ambiguous) to be hardly able to restrain one's tears: fletum cohibere non posse
    • (ambiguous) to be unable to speak for emotion: prae lacrimis loqui non posse
    • (ambiguous) to be unable to sleep: somnum capere non posse
    • (ambiguous) to have great influence with a person; to have considerable weight: multum auctoritate valere, posse apud aliquem
    • (ambiguous) to have great weight as a speaker: multum dicendo valere, posse
    • (ambiguous) to be unable to say all one wants: verbis non omnia exsequi posse
    • (ambiguous) to have a powerful navy: navibus plurimum posse
  • possum in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[2], pre-publication website, 2005-2016