guinea pig

guinea pig

noun
1.
a short-eared, tailless rodent of the genus Cavia, usually white, black, and tawny, commonly regarded as the domesticated form of one of the South American wild species of cavy: often used in scientific experiments or kept as a pet.
2.
Informal. the subject of any sort of experiment.

Origin:
1655–65

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World English Dictionary
guinea pig
 
n
1.  a domesticated cavy, probably descended from Cavia porcellus, commonly kept as a pet and used in scientific experiments
2.  a person or thing used for experimentation
 
[C17: origin uncertain: perhaps from old use of the name Guinea to mean any remote unknown land]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

Guinea pig
1664, native to South America and is so called either because it was first brought back to Britain aboard Guinea-men, ships that plied the triangle trade between England, Guinea, and South America; or from confusion of Guinea (q.v.) with the South American region of Guyana.
In the extended sense of "one subjected to an experiment" it is first recorded 1920, because they were commonly used in vivisection experiments.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

guinea pig guin·ea pig (gĭn'ē)
n.
Any of various small, short-eared domesticated rodents of the genus Cavia, having variously colored hair and no visible tail. They are widely kept as pets and often used as experimental animals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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