Definition of Pygmy in English:

Pygmy

Syllabification: Pyg·my
Pronunciation: /ˈpigmē
 
/
(also Pigmy)

noun (plural Pygmies)

  • 1A member of certain peoples of very short stature in equatorial Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.
    More 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.
  • 1.1 (pygmy) chiefly • derogatory A very small person, animal, or thing.
    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.
    Synonyms
    dwarf, midget, very small person, homunculus, manikin; Lilliputian, halfling
    informal shrimp
  • 1.2 (pygmy) [usually with adjective] An insignificant person, especially one who is deficient in a particular respect: he regarded them as intellectual pigmies
    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.
    Synonyms
    lightweight, mediocrity, nonentity, nobody, no-name, cipher; small fry
    informal pipsqueak, no-hoper, picayune

Pygmies (e.g., the Mbuti and Twa peoples) are typically dark-skinned, nomadic hunter-gatherers with an average male height not above 150 cm (4 ft. 11 in.) . See also Negrillo, Negrito

adjective

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  • 1Of, relating to, or denoting the Pygmies: centuries-old Pygmy chants from central Africa
    More example sentences
    • Finally, the husband called out the Pygmy equivalent of ‘You're right, honey!’
    • The pipeline also runs through an area that is home to a Pygmy minority of traditional hunters and gatherers, the Bakola.
    • People of the Pygmy and the Ndowe tribes were the first inhabitants of the area that is today the mainland of Equatorial Guinea.
  • 1.1 (pygmy) (Of a person or thing) very small.
    More example sentences
    • The benevolent dwarf countenances were gone, and they all looked like pygmy monsters out of an old horror movie.
    • Skeptics find this possibility implausible, arguing that it's more likely this individual was just a pygmy human with some genetic defect.
  • 1.2 (pygmy) Used in names of animals and plants that are much smaller than more typical kinds, e.g., pygmy hippopotamus, pygmy water lily.
    More 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.

Derivatives

pygmean

Pronunciation: /ˈpigmēən, pigˈmēən/
adjective
( • archaic )
More 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.

Origin

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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