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Re: Possum up a gum tree

Posted by James Briggs on June 14, 2003

In Reply to: Possum up a gum tree posted by R. Berg on June 14, 2003

: : What is the origin of the saying stuck up a gum tree? I don't think that it is anything to do with trees and sap and animals getting stuck to the sticky sap. I think that it is something to do with the river Gomti in India and an English garisson being sieged

: The closest saying I can find is "like a possum up a gum tree," in Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British." Mr. Partridge says this:

: "An Australian catchphrase applicable to a person exceptionally, or completely, happy: C20. . . . Clearly rural in origin, opossums being arboreal marsupials; and a gum tree being a eucalypt; and gum tree[,] this engaging creature's natural habitat."

My understanding of the phrase is that 'He's up a gum tree@ implies that someone is at a loss, in a bit of difficulty or to be virtually stuck on some project or other. The origin is suggested that the saying may be an allusion to the gum tree being a refuge for the opossum, an animal which feigns death by lying still and is therefore apparently stuck up the tree.

See, the meaning and origin of the saying 'Up a gum tree'.