One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A South American rodent with a sturdy body and vestigial tail.
Family Caviidae: five genera and several species, in particular the guinea pig
- ‘Maya is a crested, dark-eyed gold guinea pig, or cavy, and she's the pride and joy of owner and breeder Keith Lakin.’
- ‘It includes two subfamilies: the Caviinae, the cavies and the familiar guinea pigs; and the Dolichotinae, the Patagonian hares or maras.’
- ‘The cavy's an animal from Patagonia, which as you know is in South America at the bottom.’
- ‘And only when they had taken a closer look at the almost complete skeleton did they realize they had a caviomorph, cousin to the modern cavy or guinea pig.’
- ‘He keeps around 80 guinea pigs (also called cavies) on an allotment and feeds them beetroot - ‘the finest thing you can give them’ - which he grows himself.’
Late 18th century: from modern Latin cavia, from Galibi cabiai.
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