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runt

[ruhnt]
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noun
  1. an animal that is small or stunted as compared with others of its kind.
  2. the smallest or weakest of a litter, especially of pigs or puppies.
  3. a person who is small and contemptible: That runt causes most of the trouble at the meetings.
  4. British Dialect.
    1. an old or decayed tree stump.
    2. an old cow or ox.
    3. an ugly old woman; hag.

Origin of runt

1495–1505; perhaps < Dutch rund bull, cow, ox; akin to German Rind cattle
Related formsrunt·ish, adjectiverunt·ish·ly, adverbrunt·ish·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for runt

runt

noun
  1. the smallest and weakest young animal in a litter, esp the smallest piglet in a litter
  2. derogatory an undersized or inferior person
  3. a large pigeon, originally bred for eating
Derived Formsruntish, adjectiverunty, adjectiveruntiness, noun

Word Origin

C16: origin unknown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for runt

n.

c.1500, "old or decayed tree stump," of unknown origin. Meaning extended to "small ox or cow" (1540s) and by 1610s generally to undersized animals and people. Specific American English sense of "smallest of a litter" (especially of pigs) is attested from 1841. Some see a connection to Middle Dutch runt "ox," but OED thinks this unlikely, and pronounces the word "of obscure origin." Related: Runty (1807).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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