How Well Do You Know English Slang?
as a type of tiny biting insect, 1839, American English, from midge, perhaps with diminutive suffix -et.
Dr. Webster is in error in saying the word "midge" is "not in use" at the present day. In the neighboring Green mountain districts, one or more most annoying species of Simulium that there abound, are daily designated in common conversation as the midges, or, as the name is often corrupted, the midgets. From Dr. Harris' treatise it appears that the same name is in popular use for the same insects in Maine. The term is limited in this country, we believe, exclusively to those minute insects, smaller than the musketoe, which suck the blood of other animals. ["Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society," vol. VI, Albany, 1847]Transferred sense of "very small person" is attested by 1854. It is also noted mid-19c. as a pet form of Margaret.
midget midg·et (mĭj'ĭt)
A person of extremely small stature who is otherwise normally proportioned. Now considered offensive.
in human anatomy, a person of very small stature whose bodily proportions, intelligence, and sexual development are within the normal range. Diminutive stature occurs sporadically in families the rest of whose members are of ordinary size. The children of midgets are usually of ordinary height and proportions. This term is often considered pejorative; the term proportionate dwarf is now preferred. See dwarfism; Pygmy.