The origin of "guinea" in "guinea pig" is hard to explain. One theory is that the animals were brought to Europe by way of Guinea
, leading people to think they had originated there. "Guinea" was also frequently used in English to refer generally to any far-off, unknown country, and so the name may simply be a colorful reference to the animal's foreignness. Others believe "guinea" may be an alteration of the word coney
(“rabbit”); guinea pigs were referred to as "pig coneys" in Edward Topsell's 1607 treatise on quadrupeds.