- a member of a small-statured people native to equatorial Africa.
- a Negrito of southeastern Asia, or of the Andaman or Philippine islands.
- (lowercase) Disparaging and Offensive. a small or dwarfish person.
- (lowercase) anything very small of its kind.
- (lowercase) a person who is of small importance, or who has some quality, attribute, etc., in very small measure.
- Classical Mythology. (in the Iliad) one of a race of dwarfs who fought battles with cranes, who preyed on them and destroyed their fields.
- (often lowercase) of or relating to the Pygmies.
- (lowercase) of very small size, capacity, power, etc.
Origin of Pygmy
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for pygmy
To make matters worse, the pygmy goat did not even belong to Thompson; it had been stolen from a 4-year-old boy.Rudy Eugene, Brian De Leon, and More Crazy 'Bath Salt' Freakouts
June 8, 2012
Pygmy hippos are a distinct sub-species to their larger cousins the common hippopotamus.Prince Harry The Pygmy Hippos Dies
May 10, 2012
With only a half million natives (and another half million foreign workers) Bahrain is a pygmy in Arab politics.Bahrain Uprising: High Stakes for the U.S.
February 19, 2011
Reading Pygmy is like trying to do a crossword puzzle while riding a horse underwater.
“So corrupt, evil, vile American liberal culture, such United States pretension,” as Pygmy reports.
It was written about in the Pygmy histories, and talked about in their ancient traditions.Tanglewood Tales
They ran their eyes down the long table; every person there was a pygmy.Prince Vance
It was no pygmy undertaking upon which the Americans had embarked.The Naval History of the United States
Willis J. Abbot.
Had I brought with me or did I hear now a whispered: "Pygmy, again!"The Thing from the Lake
Eleanor M. Ingram
"This one might be a pygmy, for all we know," said the Very Young Man.The Girl in the Golden Atom
Raymond King Cummings
- an abnormally undersized person
- something that is a very small example of its type
- a person of little importance or significance
- (modifier) of very small stature or size
- a member of one of the dwarf peoples of Equatorial Africa, noted for their hunting and forest culture
Word Origin and History for pygmy
late 14c., Pigmei, "member of a fabulous race of dwarfs," described by Homer and Herodotus and said to inhabit Egypt or Ethiopia and India, from Latin Pygmaei (singular Pygmaeus), from Greek Pygmaioi, plural of Pygmaios "a Pygmy," noun use of adjective meaning "dwarfish," literally "of the length of a pygme; a pygme tall," from pygme "cubit," literally "fist," the measure of length from the elbow to the knuckle; related to pyx "with clenched fist" and to Latin pugnus "fist" (see pugnacious).
Figurative use for "person of small importance" is from 1590s. Believed in 17c. to refer to chimpanzees or orangutans, and occasionally the word was used in this sense. The ancient word was applied by Europeans to the equatorial African race 1863, but the tribes probably were known to the ancients and likely were the original inspiration for the legend. As an adjective from 1590s. Related: Pygmean; Pygmaean.
- An individual of unusually small size.
- Pygmy A member of any of various peoples, especially found in equatorial Africa and parts of southeast Asia, having an average height less than 5 feet.
- Unusually or atypically small.
A member of any ethnic group in which the average height of the adult male is less than four feet, eleven inches. There are Pygmy tribes in dense rain-forest areas of central Africa, southern India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The most widely studied Pygmies are the Mbuti of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, who pursue a nomadic hunting and gathering subsistence (see nomadism and hunting and gathering societies), but have established complex interdependent relationships with their non-Pygmy farming neighbors.