Dwarfism is a medical or genetic condition that results in a stature below 4’10,” according to Little People of America. The average height of a dwarf is 4’0.” When used in a non-medical sense, it can be considered offensive, but many view it as the acceptable term for the condition.
The term midget was used in the past to describe an unusually short and proportionate person. It is now widely considered derogatory. The terms little people and little person refer to people of short stature and have come into common use since the founding of the Little People of America organization in 1957. The appropriateness of the terms is disputed by those within and outside of the organization. Little People of America recommends using the descriptors short stature, little person or someone with dwarfism.
Only refer to a person’s short stature if it is relevant to the story. It is best to ask people which term they prefer to describe them. Avoid the term dwarf unless it is being used in a quote or in a medical diagnosis. Avoid using the terms vertically challenged and midget.« Back to Glossary Index