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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ She appeared but a pigmy compared with the lofty frigate which she guarded.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Pygmy \Pyg"my\, n.; pl. Pygmies. [L. pygmaeus, Gr. ?, fr. ? the fist, a measure of length, the distance from the elbow to the knuckles, about 131 inches. Cf. Pugnacious, Fist.]

  1. (Class. Myth.) One of a fabulous race of dwarfs who waged war with the cranes, and were destroyed.

  2. Hence, a short, insignificant person; a dwarf.

  3. One of a race of Central African Negritos found chiefly in the great forests of the equatorial belt. They are the shortest of known races, the adults ranging from less than four to about five feet in stature. They are timid and shy, dwelling in the recesses of the forests, though often on good terms with neighboring Negroes.

    Pygmies are pygmies still, though perched on Alps. And pyramids are pyramids in vales.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

see pygmy.


n. (alternative spelling of pygmy English)

  1. n. an unusually small individual [syn: pygmy]

  2. any member of various peoples having an average height of less than five feet [syn: Pygmy]

Usage examples of "pigmy".

Negro teacher and educator might as well admit the fact of their incompetency and with the admission bend themselves with renewed energy to hard study, laying aside all bogus degrees and meaningless titles, and acknowledge the fact that they are yet intellectual pigmies.

I had already decided that there was another thing Great God Dangerfield had garbled: far from being an ancient race, the pigmies are neoteric, upstart usurpers who have appeared only recently on the scene to oust the peke and bear people.

It was then we saw our first manyatta, a complete village of pigmy huts like up-ended wicker baskets.

Queen Amballa and her pigmy shrews grouped with the big hedgehogs on one side, while Starwort and his otters mingled with the Gawtrybe squirrels.

But I say, Congrio, yon homunculus--yon pigmy assailant of my cranes--yon pert-tongued neophyte of the kitchen, was there aught but insolence on his tongue when he maligned the comeliness of my sweetmeat shapes?

The infant pigmy shrews fled, squealing, to hide, wanting the captives to chase them.

As they gathered the little ones up for bed, Martin noticed Amballa and several of the other pigmy shrews watching them carefully lest they became roughpawed or spoke harshly to the babes.

Martin bowled the nearest two pigmy shrews over and snatched their fishing net.

The pigmy shrews were getting in her way, ignoring her as they trampled the nets and gazed up.

Amballa stood at the head of her mighty army of pigmy shrews, and behind them the Warden of Marshwood Hill could be seen stalking among the crowds of Gawtrybe squirrels as they waved their axes eagerly, wanting to play a new game.

Amballa had several of her pigmy shrews drag a large square fishing net to the hill.

Queen Amballa and her pigmy shrews grouped with the big hedgehogs on one side, while Starwort and his otters mingled with the Gawtrybe squirrels.

As far as they could tell, this manoeuvre was resented by the pigmies, whose noise redoubled.

Under this cover, on the dropping-bespattered ground, the pigmies had their rude huts, which were no more than squares of woven reed propped at any angle by sticks, to allow an entrance.

As they came nearer, they saw that the decorated area was actually a building hewn in the living rock, complete with doors, passages, rooms and windows, from the last of which pigmies watched their progress with unblinking curiosity.