Guinea pig

Guinea pig is an idiom that has been in use since the 1920s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom guinea pig, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

The idiom guinea pig means the subject of experimentation, research, or testing. Someone who is a guinea pig is being used as a test case in a situation that others do not want to participate in. The safety and well being of the person who is the guinea pig is not considered. For instance, servicemen who were present during early nuclear tests were guinea pigs. The consequences for a person who is acting as a guinea pig do not have to be dire. A person who allows a barber student to cut his hair is a guinea pig. The literal meaning of the term guinea pig is a small rodent. This particular type of rodent was often used in experiments beginning in the 1800s and until the early twentieth century, when rats and mice because the test subjects of choice.

Examples

The former Atomic Kitten songstress refused to be a ‘guinea pig’ and insisted that her kids Molly Marie, 18, Lily-Sue, 17, Heidi, 13, Maxwell, 12 and Dylan-Jorge, six would remain at home. (The Mirror)

During an interview on Monday, Liccardo said defunding the department “doesn’t help the very communities that have been burdened by structural racism for decades in this nation” and said he would not want San Jose to be a “guinea pig” in the “experiment” of defunding police. (The San Jose Mercury)

Chyna Darrow said her brother was a “guinea pig” for the health care system, having tried a variety of medications without the therapy he has needed for 12 years. (The Peninsula Daily News)