guinea pig

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See also: guineapig and guinea-pig

English[edit]

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guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus)

Alternative forms[edit]

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]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈɡɪni pɪɡ/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

guinea pig (plural guinea pigs)

  1. A tailless rodent of the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia, with short ears and larger than a hamster; the species Cavia porcellus is often kept as a pet.
    Synonym: cavy (formal name)
  2. A rodent of any of several species within the family Caviidae.
  3. (figuratively) A living experimental subject.
    Synonym: lab rat
    He became a human guinea pig and was paid by the company.
    • 1970, Larry Niven, Ringworld, page 115:
      [H]e spoke of the unwisdom of volunteering one's services as a guinea pig.
    • 2008 October, Davy Rothbart, “How I caught up with dad”, in Men's Health, volume 23, number 8, ISSN 1054-4836, page 112:
      My dad told me about his days in the Navy: He'd agreed to be a guinea pig in exchange for a shorter enlistment. They kept him awake for a week straight.
  4. (dated, slang) A professional company director, without time or real qualifications for the duties.
  5. (obsolete) Term of contempt.

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

  • Sranan Tongo: dyinipi

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wagner, Joseph E.; Manning, Patrick J (1976) The Biology of the Guinea Pig, Academic Press, →ISBN
  2. ^ “Results for "Guinea pig"”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], Dictionary.com, accessed 2006-08-29