from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
- noun Any of various small, stocky, short-eared rodents of the genus Cavia of South America, having no visible tail. The domesticated species C. porcellus is widely kept as a pet and is used in biomedical research.
- noun Informal A person who is used as a subject for experimentation or research.
from The Century Dictionary.
- noun The domestic form, in several varieties, of the restless cavy, Cavia aperea, a Brazilian rodent of the family Caviidæ.
- noun The boschvark, Potamochærus africanus.
- noun One whose fee is a guinea: a punning name, applied in the quotation to a veterinary surgeon.
- noun A junior midshipman in the East India service.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.
- (Zoöl.) A small Brazilian rodent (
Cavia porcellusor Cavia cobaya), about seven inches in length and usually of a white color, with spots of orange and black. Called also cavy. It is the domesticated form of the wild cavy, often kept as a pet and used commonly as an experimental animal in laboratory research.
- Any animal or person used in an experiment; -- also applied to people who are unwillingly or unknowingly subjected by authorities to policies or procedures which might cause bodily or mental harm.
- obsolete A contemptuous sobriquet.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
- noun A tailless
rodentof the the family Caviidaeand the genus Caviagenus, with short earsand larger than a hamster; the species Cavia porcellusis often kept as a pet.
- noun A rodent of any of several species within the family Caviidae.
- noun figuratively A living experimental subject.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- noun a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures; someone who is an object of investigation
- noun stout-bodied nearly tailless domesticated cavy; often kept as a pet and widely used in research
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
[Perhaps alteration (influenced by Guinea, used as a name for any faraway unknown country) of Guiana.]
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
The origin of "guinea" in "guinea pig" is hard to explain. One theory is that the animals were brought to Europe by way of Guinea, leading people to think they had originated there. "Guinea" was also frequently used in English to refer generally to any far-off, unknown country, and so the name may simply be a colorful reference to the animal's foreignness. Others believe "guinea" may be an alteration of the word coney ("rabbit"); guinea pigs were referred to as "pig coneys" in Edward Topsell's 1607 treatise on quadrupeds.
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