Definition of pygmy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪɡmi/
(also pigmy)

noun (plural pygmies)

1 (Pygmy) A member of certain peoples of very short stature in equatorial Africa and parts of SE Asia. Pygmies (e.g. the Mbuti and Twa peoples) are typically nomadic hunter-gatherers with an average male height not above 150 cm (4 ft 11 in.).
Example sentences
  • The earliest known inhabitants of South Africa were Pygmies and Khoisan.
  • The original inhabitants were the Pygmies, but only a few thousand remain.
  • Their physical features - short stature, dark skin, peppercorn hair and large buttocks - are characteristic of African Pygmies.
2chiefly derogatory A very small person, animal, or thing: Charles VIII of France was a pygmy they were pygmies compared to the current satellites
More example sentences
  • The fall of a Titan is always much more shocking than the stumble of a pygmy.
  • Home rule has fallen into the hands of insecure, paranoid, self-protecting pygmies.
  • However, the Oompa-Loompas, a rare tribe of identical pygmies (all played by Deep Roy) who work for Wonka provoke mixed feelings.
very small person, person of restricted growth
informal shrimp, pint-sized person
offensive midget, dwarf, runt
rare homunculus, manikin, Lilliputian, fingerling, thumbling
2.1A person who is insignificant or is deficient in a particular respect: he regarded them as intellectual pygmies
More example sentences
  • Even with the slight handicap of having to speak in English, Mr Fischer would have these intellectual pygmies for breakfast.
  • I seek to be neither an intellectual nor a spiritual pygmy.
  • We have a scientific social system in which intellectual pygmies are standing in judgment of giants.
insignificant person, lightweight, mediocrity, nobody, gnat, insect, cipher;
(pygmiessmall fry
informal pipsqueak, squirt
British informal nerk, johnny, squit, whippersnapper
Scottish informal nyaff
North American informal bozo, picayune, pisher, snip
archaic, informal dandiprat
North American vulgar slang pissant


1Very small or insignificant.
1.1Used in names of animals and plants that are much smaller than more typical kinds, e.g. pygmy shrew, pygmy water lily.
Example sentences
  • Moreover, some predators of pygmy swordtails (X. nigrensis) also exhibit a bias for the sword.
  • The pygmy hippo, which is the smallest species, occurs in West Africa, especially in or near rivers, lakes, and swamps.
  • The species lived with pygmy elephants and giant lizards on a remote island in Indonesia.



Pronunciation: /pɪɡˈmiːən/
(also pygmaean /pɪɡˈmiːən/) adjective ( archaic)
Example sentences
  • Evidence of this may still be found in the fact that the present-day pygmean aborigines of the Andaman Islands possess fire and keep it burning continuously.
  • The reputation of the tavern, under its pygmean proprietor, was but brief, as the "unparalleled" Coan, as he is styled, died within two years.


Late Middle English (originally in the plural, denoting a mythological race of small people): via Latin from Greek pugmaios 'dwarf', from pugmē 'the length measured from elbow to knuckles'.

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