guinea pig

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English[edit]

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Guinea pigs

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Etymology[edit]

The origin of "guinea" in "guinea pig" is hard to explain. One theory is that the animals were brought to Europe by way of Guinea, leading people to think they had originated there.[1] "Guinea" was also frequently used in English to refer generally to any far-off, unknown country, and so the name may simply be a colorful reference to the animal's foreignness.[2] Others believe "guinea" may be an alteration of the word coney (rabbit); guinea pigs were referred to as "pig coneys" in Edward Topsell's 1607 treatise on quadrupeds.[1]

Noun[edit]

guinea pig (plural guinea pigs)

  1. A tailless rodent of the the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia genus, with short ears and larger than a hamster; the species Cavia porcellus is often kept as a pet.
  2. A rodent of any of several species within the family Caviidae.
  3. (figuratively) A living experimental subject.
    He became a human guinea pig and was paid by the company.

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References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1976 December 17, Joseph E. Wagner, The Biology of the Guinea Pig, Academic Press, ISBN 0-12-730050-3:
  2. ^ "Results for "Guinea pig"", Dictionary.com. URL accessed on 2006-08-29.