AskDefine | Define midget

Dictionary Definition

midget adj : very small; "diminutive in stature"; "a lilliputian chest of drawers"; "her petite figure"; "tiny feet"; "the flyspeck nation of Bahrain moved toward democracy" [syn: bantam, diminutive, lilliputian, petite, tiny, flyspeck] n : a person who is abnormally small [syn: dwarf, nanus]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

diminutive of midge (from O.E. mygg, mycg "gnat," from Proto-Germanic *mugjon, (cognate with Dutch mug 'mosquito' & German Mücke "midge, gnat")), using the suffix -et, originally (1865) for a "little sand fly" , only around 1869 also a "very small person"

Pronunciation

Noun

midget (plural: midgets)
  1. (originally) a little sand-fly
    Although tiny and just two-winged, midgets can bite you manyfold till you itch all over your unprotected skin
  2. (loosely) Any small swarming insect similar to the mosquito; a midge
  3. A normally proportioned person with small stature, usually defined as reaching an adult height less than 4'10".
  4. A short person.
  5. (attributively) That is a small version of something; miniature
    the midget pony

Usage notes

  • The term midget to refer to a person of short and small stature is considered offensive by many.
  • Used for an insect, this is an variation on midge that is incorrect but commonly used.

Synonyms

Antonyms

Translations

person of small stature of adult height less than 4'10"
derogatory: any short person
attributively: that is the small version of something
loosely: a midge See midge

Extensive Definition

Midget is a term used to describe an exceptionally short person. The terms "midget" and "dwarf" are often used synonymously, as both terms mean someone who has been short in stature since birth, but those terms were not originally synonyms.
In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, midget was a medical term referring to an extremely short but normally proportioned person, and was used in contrast to dwarf, which denoted disproportionate shortness. Like many other older medical terms, as it became part of popular language, it was often used in a pejorative sense. When applied to a person who is very short, midget is now often considered offensive, an example of the euphemism treadmill.
Unusual shortness of stature is caused by an inherited gene and can be diagnosed at birth by several telltale signs or later when the child is a toddler. The word dwarf has generally replaced midget even for proportionally short people, though the term little person is preferred. According to the Little People of America, dwarfism is "a medical or genetic condition that usually results in an adult height of 4 [feet] 10 [inches] [(147 cm)] or shorter, among both men and women, although in some cases a person with a dwarfing condition may be slightly taller than that."
Modern terminology now distinguishes between the two types of dwarfism using the terms proportionate dwarfism, such as primordial dwarfism, and disproportionate dwarfism, such as achondroplasia. Proportionate dwarfism is often the result of a hormonal deficiency (such as growth hormone deficiency), and it may be treated medically.
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 1961) defines "midget" in the noun form as "a very diminutive person", and in the adjective form as "like a midget in size; very diminutive", hence its usage as a synonym for "miniature", as with cars.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term "midget" comes from "midge", meaning a sand fly, and the suffix "-et", meaning little or small.

See also

References

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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