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[kam-uh l] /ˈkæm əl/
either of two large, humped, ruminant quadrupeds of the genus Camelus, of the Old World.
a color ranging from yellowish tan to yellowish brown.
Also called camel spin. Skating. a spin done in an arabesque position.
  1. Also called pontoon. a float for lifting a deeply laden vessel sufficiently to allow it to cross an area of shallow water.
  2. a float serving as a fender between a vessel and a pier or the like.
  3. caisson (def 3a).
Origin of camel
before 950; Middle English, Old English < Latin camēlus < Greek kámēlos < Semitic; compare Hebrew gāmāl
Related forms
camellike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for camel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There are two kinds of camels—the camel proper and the camel improper.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • I hadn't been on a camel since I was four, if then, so it was useless to follow.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • There's nothing like sitting still after a windy day on camel back.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • And he sold his camel yesterday and bought a bicycle instead.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Behold, your friend the kaimkam is gloomy and impassive as a camel; what can you do?

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
British Dictionary definitions for camel


either of two cud-chewing artiodactyl mammals of the genus Camelus: family Camelidae. They are adapted for surviving long periods without food or water in desert regions, esp by using humps on the back for storing fat See Arabian camel, Bactrian camel
a float attached to a vessel to increase its buoyancy See also caisson (sense 3)
a raft or float used as a fender between a vessel and a wharf
  1. a fawn colour
  2. (as adjective): a camel dress
Word Origin
Old English, from Latin camēlus, from Greek kamēlos, of Semitic origin; related to Arabic jamal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for camel

Old English camel, perhaps via Old North French camel (Old French chamel, Modern French chameau), from Latin camelus, from Greek kamelos, from Hebrew or Phoenician gamal, perhaps related to Arabic jamala "to bear."

Another Old English word for the beast was olfend, apparently based on confusion of camels with elephants in a place and time when both were known only from travelers' vague descriptions. The Arabian have one hump (the lighter variety is the dromedary); the Bactrian have two.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with camel


see under last straw
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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