PIGNUS, civil law. This word signifies in English, pledge or pawn. (q. v.) It is derived, says Gaius, from pugnium, the fist, because what is delivered in pledge is delivered. in hand. Dig. 50, 16, 238, 2. This is one of several instances of the failure of the Roman jurists, when they attempted etymological explanation of words. The elements of pignus (pig) is contained in the word pa(n)g-o, and its cognate forms. Smith's Dict. Gr. and Rom. Antiq. h. v.