pyg·my | \ˈpig-mē \
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 rare pygmy sperm whale that washed up on an Ipswich beach and later died will be taken to the New England Aquarium for an necropsy, an official said., "Necropsy planned for rare pygmy sperm whale found on Ipswich beach," 13 June 2018 The ministry revealed that the whale measures 24 meters (nearly 80 feet) long, and belongs to a subspecies known as the pygmy blue whale. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Huge Blue Whale Sighted in the Red Sea for the First Time," 2 June 2018 Sure enough, a pygmy rattlesnake, dark, reddish-brown with pink spots, lay coiled up under the ledge. Patty Hodapp, Outside Online, "The Man Who Survived a Rattler, Bear, and Shark Attack," 10 July 2018 The one-hour yoga class is fine for all levels, even beginners, and the second hour involves playing with the 15 to 20 pygmy goats. Sandy Guerra-cline, star-telegram, "The DFW top 10: Rockin' the River keeps the fireworks going," 3 July 2018 The elaborate petting zoo includes a herd of tame fallow deer along with a menagerie that includes reindeer, wallabies, marmosets, coatimundis, mini horses, pygmy goats and more. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Arizona road trip: Williams has Route 66, Bearizona and cool summer fun," 15 June 2018 This year, a 2-year-old pygmy goat named Princess Jenny crossed the finish line first, claiming the crown. Bethany Ao,, "The cutthroat goat races of Sly Fox Brewery's annual Bock Fest," 7 May 2018 Although this species is not threatened, two of the six species of sloth are endangered: the pygmy three-toed sloth (critically endangered) and the maned sloth (vulnerable). Terry Gardner,, "Just in time for Mother's Day: zoo babies in the West," 6 May 2018 The prevalence of the third species, a pygmy gecko that looks like a yellow rubber fishing lure, does not appear to have changed much. Geoffrey Giller, Scientific American, "Island Lizards Shift to Evolutionary Fast-Track after Invasive Goats and Rats Are Eradicated," 30 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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

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English Language Learners Definition of pygmy

Pygmy : a member of a group of very small people who live in Africa

: 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 \
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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Spanish Central: Translation of pygmy

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Britannica English: Translation of pygmy for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pygmy

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