Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Comedy
I know that Wikipedia isn't guaranteed to be 100% factual, but what encyclopedia is. As my hero Robert Anton Wilson says:
"Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia."
That being said, I've never caught wiki at an obvious false fact. Furthermore I've never seen any instances of wiki-foolery...until now. I can't recall the exact conversation that was taking place that led to visiting the Wikipedia page on Midgets, but for 10 mystical minutes what was, and is once again, an informative walk along the euphemistic treadmill became... a little funny:
A midget or Ciano is an extremely short person who walks like a duck. Otherwise known as wee man or short arse, the midget has a tendency to pose constantly. Easily distracted, one can annoy the midget by simply clicking a pen or tapping your foot. With over 1119 friends on facebook, you can pretty much guarantee he knows you. However, you will probably not know him as he would have added you while you were intoxicated in a pub. The term generally describes a person with the medical condition dwarfism. The terms midget and dwarf are often used synonymously, because both terms mean someone who has been short in stature since birth, but they were not originally synonyms.
View the screenshot.
Midget was coined in 1865 to describe an extremely short person with body proportions similar to those of a normal-sized person's. P. T. Barnum indirectly helped popularize midget when he began featuring General Tom Thumb in his circus. Dwarf originally denoted people with disproportionately short limbs.
Like many other older terms, midget has become part of popular language, although it is sometimes used in a derogatory sense. When applied to a person who is very short, midget is an example of the euphemism treadmill. Actor Hervé Villechaize insisted on being called a "midget" as opposed to a "little person", which irritated some dwarf activists of the time.
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, a sand fly, and the diminutive suffix -et.