Query---"tap" = possum?

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sat Dec 1 00:41:55 UTC 2007

Is anyone familiar with "tap" = "possum"?  I received the query below from Norm Cohen (no relation) and see on Google that the lyrics are from a "Negro Song."  "Tap" does seem to mean "possum" there, and if so, what would its origin be?

Gerald Cohen


From: ncohen at teleport.com [mailto:ncohen at teleport.com]
Sent: Thu 11/29/2007 11:01 PM
To: Cohen, Gerald Leonard
Subject: Query

I came across this verse in a song collected and published in 1867:
As I walked down the new cut road,
I met the tap and then the toad;
The toad commenced to whistle and sing,
And the possum cut the pigeon wing.

Any idea what a "tap" is?  Could this be an opossum?
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Norm Cohen

ncohen at teleport.com

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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