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From Latin Pygmaeī, from Ancient Greek πυγμαῖος (pugmaîos, a member of a race of dwarves), from πυγμή (pugmḗ, fist (as small as a fist))


  • IPA(key): /pɪɡmiː/
  • (file)


pygmy (plural pygmies)

  1. (often capitalized) A member of one of various Ancient Equatorial African tribal peoples, notable for their very short stature.
    • 2018, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, The History and Geography of Human Genes:
      Although Pygmies are relatively protected against gene flow from other populations, many Pygmy tribes show extensive gene replacement and few have remained relatively unaltered.
  2. (Greek mythology) A member of a race of dwarfs.
    • 2015, Sam Miller, A Strange Kind of Paradise: India through Foreign Eyes:
      Ctesias lived in Persia for several years, as the personal physician of King Ataxerxes II, and would have had contact with travellers to India, and Indian visitors to Persia. He describes dog-headed humans, pygmy men who grow their beards so long that they can be used as clothes, and affirms that it never rains in India.
  3. (figuratively, derogatory, offensive) Any dwarfish person or thing.
    • 2015, Rosie Harris, Moving On: A family saga set in 1970’s Liverpool:
      It was so high up that the people walking about in the street below looked like pygmies.
  4. (figuratively, derogatory, offensive) An insignificant person, at least in some respect.
    • 2016, Hugh Miall, Beyond Deterrence: Britain, Germany and the New European Security Debate:
      On the world stage Germany is an economic giant but a political pygmy, Britain in comparison a political giant but an economic pygmy.



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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


pygmy (comparative more pygmy, superlative most pygmy)

  1. Relating or belonging to the Pygmy people.
  2. Like a pygmy; unusually short or small for its kind.
    • 1999, Ashok V. Desai, The Price of Onions, page 73:
      Amongst foodgrains, as we travelled from the green South and East towards the dry North and West, the pygmy crop of rice gave way to the tall bajra and jowar.


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