1. any of several small, brown to gray tailless mammals of the genus Ochotona, resembling rabbits with short ears and legs and inhabiting western mountains of North America and parts of eastern Europe and Asia.

Origin of pika

1820–30; recorded by the German naturalist P.S. Pallas (1741–1811) as the name for the animal in Evenki; compare Evenki (N Baikal dial.) pikačān a name for the tree creeper (Certhia familiaris), apparently based on Russian píkatʾ to squeak, peep (compare Russian pishchúkha a name for both the tree creeper and the pika, which emits a shrill sound)
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Examples from the Web for pika

Historical Examples of pika

  • American pikas all belong to the subgenus Pika, which occurs also in Eurasia.

  • The pikas worked a relay system and the weasel abandoned the trail when the fourth pika became the object of the chase.

    American Weasels

    E. Raymond Hall

  • In slide rock and in bouldery moraines up as high as thirteen thousand feet, one finds the pika, or cony.

  • And that is how Little Chief the Pika learned to make hay while the sun shone in the days of plenty.

  • On the wildest and most desolate peaks and rock piles is found the cony or pika or "rock rabbit" as it is variously called.

    The Lake of the Sky

    George Wharton James

British Dictionary definitions for pika


  1. any burrowing lagomorph mammal of the family Ochotonidae of mountainous regions of North America and Asia, having short rounded ears, a rounded body, and rudimentary tailAlso called: cony

Word Origin for pika

C19: from Tungusic piika
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 pika

rabbit-like animal of Siberia and North America, 1827, from Tunguse piika.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper