Pygmy


Pygmy
pygmoid, adj.pygmyish, adj.pygmyism, n.
/pig"mee/, n., pl. Pygmies, adj.
n.
1. Anthropol.
a. a member of a small-statured people native to equatorial Africa.
b. a Negrito of southeastern Asia, or of the Andaman or Philippine islands.
2. (l.c.) a small or dwarfish person.
3. (l.c.) anything very small of its kind.
4. (l.c.) a person who is of small importance, or who has some quality, attribute, etc., in very small measure.
5. Class. Myth. (in the Iliad) one of a race of dwarfs who fought battles with cranes, who preyed on them and destroyed their fields.
adj.
6. (often l.c.) of or pertaining to the Pygmies.
7. (l.c.) of very small size, capacity, power, etc.
Also, Pigmy.
[1350-1400; ME pigmeis, pl. of PIGME < L Pygmaeus < Gk pygmaîos dwarfish (adj.), Pygmy (n.), equiv. to pygm(é) distance from elbow to knuckles + -aios adj. suffix]
Syn. 2. See dwarf.

* * *

Member of any human group whose adult males grow to less than 59 in.

(150 cm) in average height. The name is also sometimes loosely applied to the San of southern Africa and the so-called Negrito peoples of Asia (such as the Philippine Ilongot). Besides their short stature, Pygmies are notable in having the highest basal-metabolism rate in the world and a high incidence of sickle-cell anemia. The Bambuti of the Ituri Forest are a well-studied example. See also race.

* * *

people
      in anthropology, member of any human group whose adult males grow to less than 59 inches (150 cm) in average height. A member of a slightly taller group is termed pygmoid.

      The best-known Pygmy groups and those to whom the term is most commonly applied are the Pygmies of tropical Africa; elsewhere in Africa some of the San (Bushmen) of the Kalahari are of Pygmy size. There are also Pygmy groups, commonly known as Negritos, in Asia. Similarities in the physical features of the African and Asian groups are a result of their long period of adaptation to similar environments.

      Virtually all Pygmy peoples are hunters and gatherers, practicing neither agriculture nor cattle raising. Most maintain close symbiotic relations with other groups in their region; consequently most have lost their indigenous languages and adopted that of their neighbours.

      The famous Pygmy groups of the Ituri Forest in Congo (Kinshasa) present an example of a culture unchanging as a result of acculturation with neighbouring peoples. Known collectively as the Bambuti (Mbuti), they are probably the earliest inhabitants of the region.

      Another well-known Pygmy group in equatorial Africa are the Twa (Batwa), who live in the high mountains and plains around Lake Kivu, in Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, in symbiosis with the pastoral Tutsi, the agricultural Hutu, and other tribes. Many specialize in pottery, which they market; others hunt; some act as court musicians and attendants.

      Westward, in the marshes south of the Congo River, is the large group of Tswa (Batswa), who, like the Twa, have adopted much of the culture and language of neighbouring tribes. They live largely by fishing and trapping.

      North of the Congo, in the forest west of the Ubangi River, are the Babinga. This is also an acculturated group of pygmoids, but perhaps because of similarity of habitat they share more cultural characteristics with the Pygmies of the Ituri Forest than do the Twa and Tswa.

      Farther to the west, in Cameroon and Gabon, there are other scattered Pygmy groups.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pygmy — Pyg my, Pygmean Pyg*me an, a. [L. pygmaeus. See {Pygmy}.] Of or pertaining to a pygmy; resembling a pygmy or dwarf; dwarfish; very small. Like that Pygmean race. Milton. [1913 Webster] {Pygmy antelope} (Zo[ o]l.), the kleeneboc. {Pygmy goose}… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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}.] [Written also {pigmy}.] 1. (Class. Myth.) One of a fabulous race of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pygmy — late 14c., Pigmei, member of a fabulous race of dwarfs, described by Homer and Herodotus and said to inhabit Egypt or Ethiopia and India, from L. Pygmaei (sing. Pygmaeus), from Gk. Pygmaios, originally plural of an adj. meaning dwarfish, lit. of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pygmy — *dwarf, midget, manikin, homunculus, runt …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • pygmy — is derived from a Greek word pygmē meaning ‘the length of the forearm’ and largely for this reason the spelling with y is preferable to the form pigmy …   Modern English usage

  • pygmy — (also pigmy) ► NOUN (pl. pygmies) 1) a member of certain peoples of very short stature in equatorial Africa. 2) chiefly derogatory a very small person or thing. 3) a person who is deficient in a particular respect: intellectual pygmies. ►… …   English terms dictionary

  • Pygmy — [pig′mē] n. pl. Pygmies [ME pigmey < L pygmaeus < Gr pygmaios, of the length of the pygmē, forearm and fist, also fist: see PUGNACIOUS] 1. any of several groups of small African or Asian peoples described in ancient history and legend 2. a… …   English World dictionary

  • pygmy — 1. noun a) (often capitalized, usually in the plural: Pygmies) A member of one of various Ancient Equatorial African tribal peoples, notable for their very short stature The Bantu immigration drove many Pygmy tribes into the darkest jungle, while …   Wiktionary

  • pygmy — pyg|my1 , pigmy [ˈpıgmi] n plural pygmies [Date: 1300 1400; : Latin; Origin: pygmaeus very small in height , from Greek, from pygme fist (as a unit of length) ] 1.) also Pygmy someone …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • pygmy — [[t]pɪ̱gmi[/t]] pygmies also pigmy 1) ADJ: ADJ n Pygmy means belonging to a species of animal which is the smallest of a group of related species. Reaching a maximum height of 56cm the pygmy goat is essentially a pet. 2) N COUNT A pygmy is a… …   English dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.