Query---"tap" = possum?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Dec 1 02:11:38 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?

I don't recognize "tap" = "possum". Maybe the DARE editor knows
something I don't.

On the Web, the song version with "tap" is relatively rare (at a
glance); other versions have instead:


Note the similarity in sound between "Met the tap an' then the toad"
and "Met the te'pin, then the toad" ("te'pin" = "terrapin").

Maybe the transcription with "tap" is erroneous, using "tap" for
"terrapin" and also conflating a version with "terrapin" with a
another version with "possum" ... or maybe somebody made the
conflation in performing the song.

I suppose there are other possibilities: e.g., maybe "terrapin" =
"tap[pin']" and "tap[pin']" means "tap[ping]-bird" = "peckerwood".

-- Doug Wilson

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