Student Dictionary

One entry found for pygmy.
Main Entry: pyg·my
Pronunciation: primarystresspig-memacron
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural pygmies
Etymology: Middle English pigmei "pygmy, dwarf," from Latin pygmaeus (noun and adjective) "pygmy, dwarfish," from Greek pygmaios (same meaning), literally, "one no longer than the forearm," from pygmemacron "fist, measure of length from the elbow to the knuckles"
1 capitalized : one of a small people of equatorial Africa ranging under five feet (1.5 meters) in height
2 : a person or thing very small for its kind : DWARF
- pygmy adjective
Word History In ancient Greek the word pygmemacron was used to mean "a measure of length from the elbow to the knuckles." It also came to refer to the fist. From this word Greek writers formed the word pygmaios for "a tiny person no longer than the forearm." They were assumed to be writing about imaginary figures, not real people. Later, this Greek word was taken into Latin as pygmaeus, meaning "dwarf." From Latin pygmaeus English formed the word pygmy. In the 19th century this word was applied to a member of a race of small people found living in Africa.

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