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Jul 23, 2004
This week's theme
Animal terms

This week's words
running dog
Kilkenny cats
stool pigeon
charley horse
guinea pig
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with Anu Garg

guinea pig

Pronunciation RealAudio

guinea pig (GIN-ee pig) noun

1. A small rodent of the genus Cavia.

2. Someone or something used as a subject of experimentation.

[Sense 2 from the fact the guinea pigs were formerly used for experimentation.]

A guinea pig is neither from Guinea (West Africa) nor is it a pig. Rather it's a rodent from South America. Why that name? There's no consensus on how Guinea came into its name though a guinea pig does appear to squeal like a pig. They were earlier used in labs. Nowadays mice and rats have replaced them as subjects of tests and trials even though alternatives to animal testing are usually available.

See more usage examples of guinea pig in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"We got French make-up artist Coline Jauneau of the Franck Provost salon in Juhu to give our 17-year-old guinea pig, Delna Indorewalla, a natural makeover."
Make-up My Day; Indian Express (New Delhi, India); Jul 2, 2004.

"We challenge you to finish that family-size bucket of popcorn while watching Super Size Me, in which director Morgan Spurlock made himself a fast-food guinea pig, eating only McDonald's for 30 days straight."
Your Film Fest A to Z; New Zealand Herald (Auckland); Jun 18, 2004.

This week's theme: expressions derived from pet animals.

X-Bonus

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. -Charles Darwin, naturalist and author (1809-1882)

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