PIIGS is an acronym made popular during the European debt crisis.

The European debt crisis (often also referred to as the eurozone crisis or the European sovereign debt crisis) is a multi-year debt crisis that has been taking place in the European Union since 2009.

PIIGS stood for the five countries that had high debt and deficit and poor prospects of repaying their loans.

These financially weak countries were Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

The first recorded use of this derogatory moniker was in 1978, when it was used to identify the underperforming European countries of Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain (PIGS).

The term was used in reference to the growing debt and economic vulnerability of the Southern European EU countries

Ireland was added during the economic crisis as that country’s debt and deficit rose sharply.