Dwarf vs Midget


A dwarf is an extremely short adult who is less than 58 inches tall. The word midget is considered derogatory and offensive. Both words describe a short person, but refer to different physical characteristics and genetic conditions.

"Midget" refers to a person who is very short, but normally proportioned. The term midget is now rarely used and is considered offensive. But its usage was very common until the end of the twentieth century. It has given way to "Short person" or "little person".

"Dwarf" refers to a person with one of several varieties of a specific genetic condition called dwarfism. A dwarf has disproportion of body parts.This is generally caused by a genetic or nutritional disability. Any adult human below the height of 4'10" (147 cm) is considered a dwarf. With reference to legends or folklore, a dwarf is considered a legendary creature resembling a tiny old man, who lives in the depths of the earth and guards buried treasure.

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About A medical condition caused by a genetic mutation at the 4th chromosome. Over 200 types of mutations exist. The term midget is different from dwarf based on body proportions. A person with dwarfism has disproportionately short limbs. The term midget was used to describe persons of small size but with normal proportions when compared to average people.
Offensive The word dwarf is not considered offensive. The word "midget" is considered offensive for either description. It is considered most offensive when misused to describe those with dwarfism. The term "homunculus" may be less offensive.
Affects Humans, animals and plants Humans only
Causes Genetic disorder Genetic disorder
Height Less than 147 cm (4' 10") Less than 147 cm (4' 10")
Physical conditions Extremely short height, malformed bones, nerve compression, joint disease, and disoriented growth of some organs Extremely short people

Contents: Dwarf vs Midget

edit Differences in origin of word

Midget, comes from the word midge "small fly" + -et, so that a midget is etymologically a "very small fly". The first reference to the word is found in 1848 in Canada with the meaning "sand fly". In Old English it was "mycg", and it goes back to an Indo-European root, *mu-, which also gave the word mosquito and, by a circuitous route, musket.

The word Dwarf is of Germanic ancestry, coming ultimately from the proto-Germanic root *dhwergwhos meaning "tiny". In Old English it was "dweorg" and meant "person of abnormally small stature".

edit Physical Condition comparison

When the words were coined, "midget" referred to a person who is small in height but doesn't have disproportionate limbs or other body parts. On the other hand, "dwarf" referred to a person who is small and has disproportionate body parts. A midget was small but proportionate while a dwarf's growth was a disability.

However, since the word "midget" is now considered derogatory and offensive, "dwarf" or "little person" describes any adult human less than 147 cms tall.

edit Whom does it affect?

Dwarfism is known to affect humans, animals and plants. Midget is a term used for humans only. In humans, a child for whom one or both parents is affected by dwarfism has a chance of inheriting the condition. Both these conditions affect men and women. It is also caused by hormonal or nutritional deficiency.

edit Differences in associated problems

While there are many problems associated with Dwarfism, midgets are not plagued by these problems. Midgets are just normal people whose height is stunted. In the case of dwarfs, the physical conditions affecting them are: malformed bones, nerve compression, joint disease, and disoriented growth of some organs.

Both midgets and dwarfs have to suffer the psychological or social problems associated with their condition. Social prejudice against their extreme height may reduce their social confidence and opportunites. Sometimes they're mocked and may suffer from low self esteem. Sometimes extreme shortness (height of less than 3 feet) may interfere with their day to day chores.

edit Differences in treatment

Since the conditions are related to genetic problems, there are few treatments available. Dress enhancements such as shoe lifts etc are some of the few ways to change the aesthetics of little people. Growth hormones are rarely used to treat these conditions as the benefits are very small. The most effective means of increasing adult height by several inches is limb-lengthening surgery, though availability is limited and cost is high in terms of dollars, discomfort, and interruption of life.

edit References

Comments: Dwarf vs Midget

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January 26, 2011, 12:33am

I am small 4 '10.5', I do not mind being called a midget. I know now I am not a dwarf and if I was called a dwarf, I would find this offensive because there is a difference. Alot of people are midgets but their are few dwarfs. I do like seeing people shorter than me. Anyway we are cute and small.

— 67.✗.✗.25

September 1, 2009, 4:31pm

Although the terms might be offensive to some group or individuals, the terms are an historical description that can be useful in differentiating the two. For example, I gave a compare and contrast assignment to my 7th grade class. One student chose dwarf/midget. Pituitary or disease induced dwarfism would have been lost as was the lesson in compassion and understanding that resulted for the whole class. I think the terms used helped my students become much more tolerant individuals.

— 204.✗.✗.65

August 3, 2009, 6:59am

Guess some of us are politically incorrect. My Mum was 4'8" and happily referred to herself as a midget. She was clear to point out that she was not a dwarf - which is genetically passed on. She was just little. I don't think anyone uses 'midget' as a professional diagnosis.

— 58.✗.✗.33

December 6, 2013, 8:26pm

arent they both the same thing

— 64.✗.✗.254

November 11, 2013, 2:38pm

I am small 4' 10.5", I do not mind being called a midget. I know now I am not a dwarf and if I was called a dwarf, I would find this offensive because there is a difference. Alot of people are midgets but their are few dwarfs. I do like seeing people shorter than me. Anyway my friends have called me c-4 because dynamite just doesn't pack a large enough punch.

— 216.✗.✗.136

October 26, 2013, 11:10am

I am a 42 year old woman who stands 4'8". I am married to a man who is 6'3", I have 3 children who all tower over me and a 6 year old granddaughter who stands up to my shoulders already. I am what you consider proportionate. My friends have called me c-4 because dynamite just doesn't pack a large enough punch. When people ask me about being so short I just laugh and tell them God had to make me small to control the size of my extremely large personality. I have been a model, ran cross country, played baseball, was a scuba diver on a research boat, was an actress, a bartender, a restaurant manager, and have become a machinist in the last year. I love my life and to be honest my only complaint is I wish I could wear a size 5/6 shoe. Do you know how hard it is to find sexy shoes in the kid's size 2 section??? -_-

— 50.✗.✗.230

September 25, 2013, 3:55pm

By this definition, Snooki, at 4 ft 9 in (145 cm), is a dwarf/midget, but can you honestly say that either of those terms, or even "short/little person", comes to mind when you see her on TV (she's currently on Dancing With The Stars)?

As many of the other folks wrote, a lot of this is really in the context or how you see or carry yourself...obsessing over these kinds of technical labels can actually be extremely dangerous to being successful in the real world of everyday life.

— 99.✗.✗.51

December 31, 2012, 7:52pm

For god sake, I read a comment above, Black is not offensive, african Can be but in the same way as if you mistook me for Irish and not English, So NOT AT ALL! CALL a spade a spade, a black a black, a midget a midget, as long as you mean it without offense, it does NOT matter.

— 82.✗.✗.2

May 29, 2012, 3:28pm

To whomever wrote "I am actually a tall person shrunk down," I think I'm going to use that one.... Any way, I also am a bit on the short side; I'm usually up to the shoulders or the mid-chest area of those surrounding me. I stand on my counter to reach the cupboards in my kitchen because the stools are too small for my little legs and arms to allow me to reach high enough. I'm often called a midget, or my nickname - Short Shit - and I am not at all offended in any way. I dont see why people are making such a huge fuss about it. Honestly, grow up. And think about it - being small isnt always a bad thing. It often makes it easier to escape when you need to. And hell, if people didnt pick on me for being short every once in a while, I'd think they didnt like me. But obviously they like me enough to notice my shortness and take the time to think about it long enough to pick on me for it. Not to mention, you hardly ever have to duck under things. And if you're a small girl who likes a tall/average height guy, it gives you an excuse to talk to him (Hey, I cant reach that up there, could you get it for me?). Also, havent you ever heard the saying "it's the little ones you gotta look out for?" In other words, we might be little, but we aint weak. Seriously poeple, get over it. It's a name. It's not the end of the world. And if you're mad cause it's "incorrect" then point it out to them that they're wrong and be done with it. Didn't your Mamma ever tell you when you were a kid to ignore the bullies in school? Why try to run from it or make a huge deal out of it - I embrace it. And the way I like to put it sometimes, is that I am not short, everyone else is just tall :)

— 168.✗.✗.210

February 27, 2012, 4:11pm

I am a very short individual and people used to call me "midget" mostly when I was in school. Occasionally, they would use the word "dwarf" but midget sounded funnier to them. I am not at all offended. It has never bothered me that I am small, nor has it impacted my quality of life unless you consider the inability to buy fashionable clothes a tragedy. My short stature is not a direct result of genetics but early malnutrition and illness. I think people need to grow a sense of humour and learn to be less offended by words. For me it was always the speakers intent that determined whether I should be offended.

— 174.✗.✗.246

January 4, 2012, 6:33pm

I come from a family of small people, but there is no dwarfism is my family. We even call ourselves midgits and never blinked an eye about it being offense. None of us have health issues and we are all 100% in proportion. Even our heads are teenie tiny. I can't wear eye glasses or hats unless they come from the children's department. I would be offended if someone called me a dwarf. I'm not. I'm actually a tall person shrunk down. ;)

— 98.✗.✗.136

July 19, 2010, 12:18am

This article is wrong on the most part. I my self is a little person and Midgets aren't a group of their own. It's a name that the average sized person gave us. It comes from PT And Barnum Circus where dwarfs were put on display as " Freak Shows" It actually means According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term midget comes from midge, a sand fly, and the diminutive suffix -et. To me I hate the word Midget and have told my friends that, I have never heard them call anybody that since. This article offended me a bit.

— 209.✗.✗.98

July 27, 2009, 1:13am

This is a stupid article. Both the dwarfism listed here and pituitary dwarfism (kindly described as a midget here) are both forms of dwarfism. Though the term midget was in use during the 19th century, its common usage does not make it any more correct. It was used in the carnivals in a setting that exploited people with dwarfism for entertainment. It is still used as a derogatory word, and has no place in this society. Those who defend its current use should look at other historical terms (chiefly the *n* word) and understand its meaning under that light.

— 71.✗.✗.20

April 4, 2014, 4:23pm

Is a porg offensive or p.c ?

— 213.✗.✗.86

February 17, 2014, 9:37pm

I looked up this article because I thought I remembered that as a child "midgets" and "dwarfs: were different from each other. I was right. I am not tall, 5' 1", but I never minded being short. I don't understand why people object to being called a Midget, but don't mind being called a Dwarf. I would much rather be called a Midget. I think it's cute. Like from the movie "Gidget" (a girl midget).

— 107.✗.✗.27

December 21, 2013, 4:00pm

I always tell my beautiful niece , "The best gifts come in small packages". The love she gets and gives really makes the name game so irrelevant!

— 166.✗.✗.151

December 18, 2011, 1:24am

There is indeed a difference between people of very short stature due to genetic medical problems, and healthy people exhibiting very short stature. Terms need to be used to differentiate these factors, medically. Comparing these terms to racial slurs is simply nonproductive.

— 75.✗.✗.137

March 3, 2010, 3:54pm

This article is correct. Some smaller people do not suffer prom pituitary gland disorders, but are small due to a lack of proper nutrition, kidney disorders, and even long term lead exposure. A midget is not a dwarf.

— 24.✗.✗.126

September 1, 2009, 6:30am

You must remove this derogatory, offensive page. This information is incorrect. The word "midget" is not an acceptable word. I have already contacted Wikipedia to inform them that the information that you relied on for this article is INCORRECT and OFFENSIVE. Do the right thing by doing good research and change the incorrect information on this page.

— 173.✗.✗.217

December 12, 2012, 6:24pm

I think it's hard for the lay person to know the difference and probably don't
know they're being offensive. It's like "black" vs. "African American" or "Indian vs, "Native American" most of the times I don't know what to say, but I'm certainly not trying to be offensive

— 96.✗.✗.252

September 3, 2012, 6:10am

Midgets are legends so there...! My boy friend is teeny (shorter then me actually) and I've called him a midget every since we first met AND he takes it as a compliment :) My mom however calls him a midget to insult him sooo.... its not the word its just who uses it and how it is said.

— 123.✗.✗.159

November 2, 2011, 12:12am

I have studied the subject on a social level and I have met 3 of the world's leading specialists in Dwarfism.

This article is incorrect. There are over 200 different condition which can result in dwarfism. Dwarfism refers to ALL persons under 4' 9" whether they are proportionate or not. Proportionate forms of dwafism (described as a midget here) are also a type of dwarfism.

Midget is a 'fake' category made social myth (and unforunately common usage) during the 19th century in freak shows and carnivals, where little people were put on display for sport or public ridicule. Which is why many people with dwarfism find it offensive. Its common usage does not make it any more correct, scientific or accurate.

With this knowledge you might understand why it is regarded as offensive by so many in the 'Restricted Growth Community'.

— 93.✗.✗.169

February 21, 2009, 9:24pm

So... which one has the higher voice? I've seen little people with normal voices and little people with high voices, does it make any difference whether midget or dwarf?

— 173.✗.✗.208

November 11, 2013, 2:36pm

You must remove this derogatory, offensive page. This information is incorrect. I have already contacted Wikipedia to inform them that the information that you relied on for this article is INCORRECT and OFFENSIVE. Do the right thing by doing good research and change the incorrect information on this page.

— 216.✗.✗.136

February 16, 2010, 5:20am

Dwarf = Achondroplasia : http://www.medicinenet.com/achondroplasia/article.htm

— 122.✗.✗.112
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