noun, plural Pygmies.
a member of a small-statured people native to equatorial Africa.
a Negrito of southeastern Asia, or of the Andaman or Philippine islands.
(lowercase) a small or dwarfish person.
(lowercase) anything very small of its kind.
(lowercase) a person who is of small importance, or who has some quality, attribute, etc., in very small measure.
Classical Mythology. (in the Iliad ) one of a race of dwarfs who fought battles with cranes, who preyed on them and destroyed their fields.
(often lowercase) of or pertaining to the Pygmies.
(lowercase) of very small size, capacity, power, etc.
Also, Pigmy.

1350–1400; Middle English pigmēis, plural of pigmē < Latin Pygmaeus < Greek pygmaîos dwarfish (adj.), Pygmy (noun), equivalent to pygm() distance from elbow to knuckles + -aios adj. suffix

pygmoid, adjective
pygmyish, adjective
pygmyism, noun

2. See dwarf. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pygmy or pigmy (ˈpɪɡmɪ)
n , pl -mies
1.  an abnormally undersized person
2.  something that is a very small example of its type
3.  a person of little importance or significance
4.  (modifier) of very small stature or size
[C14 pigmeis the Pygmies, from Latin Pygmaeus a Pygmy, from Greek pugmaios undersized, from pugmē fist]
pigmy or pigmy
[C14 pigmeis the Pygmies, from Latin Pygmaeus a Pygmy, from Greek pugmaios undersized, from pugmē fist]
pygmaean or pigmy
pygmean or pigmy

Pygmy or Pigmy (ˈpɪɡmɪ)
n , pl -mies
a member of one of the dwarf peoples of Equatorial Africa, noted for their hunting and forest culture
Pigmy or Pigmy

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1382, from L. Pygmaei (sing. Pygmaeus), from Gk. Pygmaio "a tribe of dwarfs," referred to in Homer and Herodotus and reputed to live in either India or Ethiopia; originally plural of an adj. meaning "dwarfish," lit. "a pygme tall," from pygme "cubit," lit. "fist," the measure of length from the elbow
to the knuckle (see pugnacious). Believed in 17c. to refer to chimpanzees or orangutangs. The ancient word was applied by Europeans to the equatorial African race 1863, but the tribes probably were known to the ancients and likely were the original inspiration for the legend.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

pygmy pyg·my (pĭg'mē)

  1. An individual of unusually small size.

  2. Pygmy A member of any of various peoples, especially found in equatorial Africa and parts of southeast Asia, having an average height less than 5 feet.

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

Pygmy definition

A member of any ethnic group in which the average height of the adult male is less than four feet, eleven inches. There are Pygmy tribes in dense rain-forest areas of central Africa, southern India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The most widely studied Pygmies are the Mbuti of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, who pursue a nomadic hunting and gathering subsistence (see nomadism and hunting and gathering societies), but have established complex interdependent relationships with their non-Pygmy farming neighbors.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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