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

One of the world’s rarest pigs, the Visayan is close behind the Bawean warty pig and pygmy hog, whose numbers are also in the low hundreds. Christine Dell'amore, National Geographic, "Meet the critically endangered pig with a rockstar mohawk," 22 Apr. 2019 Ten pygmy killer whales were initially found stranded Sunday at Ninety Mile Beach on the North Island. Nick Perry, The Seattle Times, "6 whales refloated after stranding on New Zealand beach," 28 Nov. 2018 Now, Jerry Yang did go and get his head handed to him during ... Got called a moral pygmy. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: Former Google lawyer and deputy U.S. CTO Nicole Wong on Recode Decode," 12 Sep. 2018 Guests are welcome to visit the white pygmy goats and might even have the opportunity to pet, feed, or walk (yes, walk) them. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "17 Hotels Around the World With Pets in Residence," 25 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for pygmy

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

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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

: 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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More from Merriam-Webster on pygmy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pygmy

Spanish Central: Translation of pygmy

Nglish: Translation of pygmy for Spanish Speakers

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

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characterized by aphorism

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