- a member of any of several groups of African or Asian peoples of small stature described in ancient history and legend
- a member of any of several modern African (Negrillo) and Asian (Negrito) peoples of small stature
- [p-] any person, animal, or plant abnormally undersized; dwarf
- [p-] an insignificant person or thing
Origin of PygmyMiddle English pigmey from Classical Latin pygmaeus from Classical Greek pygmaios, of the length of the pygm?, forearm and fist, also fist: see pugnacious
- of the Pygmies
- very small
nounpl. Pyg·mies, also Pig·mies
- Greek Mythology A member of a race of dwarfs.
- also pygmy A member of any of various peoples, especially of equatorial Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, having an average height less than 5 feet (1.5 meters).
- pygmy a. An individual of unusually small size.b. An individual considered to be of little or no importance: political pygmies.
- also pygmy Of or relating to the Pygmies.
- pygmy a. Unusually or atypically small.b. Unimportant; trivial.
Origin of PygmyMiddle English pigmie from Latin Pygmaeī the Pygmies from Greek Pugmaioi from pugmē cubit, fist ; see peuk- in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: From an anthropological point of view, a pygmy is a member of any of various African, Asian, or South American peoples whose average height is less than five feet. As an ethnic term, however, Pygmy is used more exclusively of the peoples inhabiting the forests of equatorial Africa in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding countries. Many people consider it offensive to refer to others by a name that identifies them in terms of a physical trait and would prefer to use an alternative, if one existed. But the indigenous names of these peoples—such as Aka, Twa, and Efe—are unfamiliar to most Americans, and none of them can be used as a comprehensive term for all such groups, even in central Africa. Thus Pygmy is still in general use, although sometimes qualified by “so-called” to indicate dissatisfaction with a term that strikes many as inherently derogatory.
- (often capitalized, usually in the plural: Pygmies) A member of one of various Ancient Equatorial African tribal peoples, notable for their very short stature
- The Bantu immigration drove many Pygmy tribes into the darkest jungle, while other Pygmies were reduced to cohabitation in a subservient status
- (Greek mythology) A member of a race of dwarfs
- Homer and Herodote mentioned Pygmies in India (which would fit the Andamanese Negritoes) or Ethiopia (then meaning all Subsaharan Africa)
- (figuratively) Any dwarfish person
- Everyone looked like Pygmies whenever giant Joe joined his classmates
- (figuratively) An insignificant person, at least in some respect
- Despite his towering stature, the minister proved a political pygmy
(comparative more pygmy, superlative most pygmy)
- Relating or belonging to the Pygmy people
- Like a pygmy; unusually short or small for its kind
- Soil exhaustion ultimately produces a pygmy crop at best
From Ancient Greek Î Ï…Î³Î¼Î±á¿–Î¿Ï‚ (Pugmaios, “a member of a race of dwarves"), from Ï€Ï…Î³Î¼Î® (pugmÄ“, “fist (as small as a fist)")