pyg·​my | \ ˈpig-mē How to pronounce pygmy (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
plural pygmies also pigmies

Definition of pygmy

1 often capitalized : any of a race of dwarfs described by ancient Greek authors
2 capitalized : any of a small people of equatorial Africa ranging under five feet (1.5 meters) in height
3a(1) : an unusually small person
(2) : an insignificant or unimpressive person an intellectual pygmy
b : something very small of its kind

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Other Words from pygmy

pygmy adjective

Examples of pygmy in a Sentence

hummingbirds may be the pygmies of the avian world, but what they lack in size they make up for in beauty regrettably, most of the candidates for the party's nomination that year were political pygmies
Recent Examples on the Web The cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, which nests in the Sonoran Desert’s iconic saguaro cactus, routinely takes down prey twice its size. Shaena Montanari, National Geographic, "Can this tiny owl survive in one of America's fastest-growing states?," 26 June 2020 In 2015, the zoo announced that a baby pygmy hippo had died about one week after its birth. cleveland, "San Diego Zoo’s new baby pygmy hippo makes splashy debut," 19 June 2020 The San Diego Zoo announced the birth of a successful pygmy hippo last week. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "San Diego Zoo Welcomes Endangered Baby Pygmy Hippo for the First Time in 30 Years," 18 May 2020 The family lived for a while in a hut in Borneo, surrounded by pitcher plants, flowers the size of beanbag chairs, flying snakes and pygmy forest elephants. Blair Braverman, New York Times, "His Son Hiked Into the Costa Rican Jungle, and Never Came Out. What Happened?," 18 Feb. 2020 The African pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats’ short heights put them at eye-level to receive plenty of attention from younger visitors. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Animals stay fed and healthy while the Akron Zoo is closed due to coronavirus," 13 Apr. 2020 Back then there were my parents, us three kids and a rotating menagerie of pets: a dog, hamsters, rabbits, turtles, doves, parrots, fish, chicks and two pygmy goats that surprised us by growing. S. Mitra Kalita, CNN, "I'm the quarantine buffer among three generations of my family. All in one house," 11 Apr. 2020 On the other end of the spectrum is the smallest possum, the Tasmanian pygmy possum, a mouse-size creature that weighs less than a pencil. National Geographic, "Possums," 6 Mar. 2020 Tree lizards and pygmy geckos, both native to the island, linger in nearby patches of shade. National Geographic, "Ravenous wild goats ruled this island for over a century. Now, it's being reborn.," 2 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pygmy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pygmy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pygmy

Middle English pigmei, from Latin pygmaeus of a pygmy, dwarfish, from Greek pygmaios, from pygmē fist, measure of length — more at pungent

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The first known use of pygmy was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pygmy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for pygmy


How to pronounce pygmy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pygmy

: a member of a group of very small people who live in Africa
disapproving : a person who is regarded as very weak, stupid, etc.


pyg·​my | \ ˈpig-mē \

Kids Definition of pygmy

: smaller than the usual size a pygmy goat


variants: also pigmy \ ˈpig-​mē How to pronounce pigmy (audio) \
plural pygmies also pigmies

Medical Definition of pygmy

1 capitalized : any of a small people of equatorial Africa ranging under five feet (1.5 meters) in height
2 : a relatively short or small individual : dwarf

Other Words from pygmy

pygmy adjective

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