from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various tailless South American rodents of the family Caviidae, which includes the guinea pig.
  • n. Any of various similar or related rodents, such as the capybara, coypu, and agouti.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A guinea pig.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rodent of the genera Cavia and Dolichotis, as the guinea pig (Cavia cobaya). Cavies are natives of South America.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rodent of the genus Cavia or family Caviidæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. short-tailed rough-haired South American rodent


From New Latin Cavia, genus name, perhaps from Galibi cabiai.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From obsolete Portuguese çavia ("the spiny rat, Makalata armate, Echimys armata") (> modern sauiá), from Old Tupi saujá (Wiktionary)



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  • The cavy (also commonly called the Guinea pig after its scientific name) is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not pigs, nor do they come from Guinea. They are native to the Andes, and while no longer extant in the wild, they are closely related to several species that are commonly found in the grassy plains and plateaus of the region. The guinea pig plays an important role in the folk culture of many indigenous South American groups, especially as a food source, but also in folk medicine and in community religious ceremonies. Since the 1960s, efforts have been made to increase consumption of the animal outside South America.

    February 15, 2008