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chameleon

[kuh-mee-lee-uh n, -meel-yuh n] /kəˈmi li ən, -ˈmil yən/
noun
1.
any of numerous Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleontidae, characterized by the ability to change the color of their skin, very slow locomotion, and a projectile tongue.
2.
any of several American lizards capable of changing the color of the skin, especially Anolis carolinensis (American chameleon) of the southeastern U.S.
3.
a changeable, fickle, or inconstant person.
4.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. Chamaeleon.
Origin of chameleon
1300-1350
1300-50; variant of chamaeleon < Latin < Greek chamailéōn, equivalent to chamaí on the ground, dwarf (akin to humus) + léōn lion; replacing Middle English camelion < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related forms
chameleonic
[kuh-mee-lee-on-ik] /kəˌmi liˈɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective
chameleonlike, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for chameleonlike
Historical Examples
  • And, chameleonlike, she took on the color of her gay surroundings.

    Superwomen Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for chameleonlike

chameleon

/kəˈmiːlɪən/
noun
1.
any lizard of the family Chamaeleontidae of Africa and Madagascar, having long slender legs, a prehensile tail and tongue, and the ability to change colour
2.
a changeable or fickle person
Derived Forms
chameleonic (kəˌmiːlɪˈɒnɪk) adjective
chameleon-like, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek khamaileōn, from khamai on the ground + leōnlion
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 chameleonlike

chameleon

n.

mid-14c., camelion, from Old French caméléon, from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek khamaileon "the chameleon," from khamai "on the ground" (also "dwarf"), akin to chthon "earth" (see chthonic) + leon "lion" (see lion). Perhaps the large head-crest on some species was thought to resemble a lion's mane. The classical -h- was restored in English early 18c. Figurative sense of "variable person" is 1580s. It formerly was supposed to live on air (cf. "Hamlet" III.ii.98).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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