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[sham-ee; French sha-mwah] /ˈʃæm i; French ʃaˈmwɑ/
noun, plural chamois, chamoix
[sham-eez; French sha-mwah] /ˈʃæm iz; French ʃaˈmwɑ/ (Show IPA)
an agile, goatlike antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, of high mountains of Europe: now rare in some areas.
a soft, pliable leather from any of various skins dressed with oil, especially fish oil, originally prepared from the skin of the chamois.
a piece of this leather.
a cotton cloth finished to simulate this leather.
a medium to grayish yellow color.
verb (used with object), chamoised
[sham-eed] /ˈʃæm id/ (Show IPA),
[sham-ee-ing] /ˈʃæm i ɪŋ/ (Show IPA)
to dress (a pelt) with oil in order to produce a chamois.
to rub or buff with a chamois.
Also, chammy, shammy, shamoy (for defs 2–4, 6, 7).
Origin of chamois
1525-35; < Middle French < Late Latin camox, presumably of pre-Latin orig.; cf. gems Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for chamois
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then she dried it with the chamois skins as she often had done before.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • But the chamois did not stir and gazed boldly into Swallow's eyes.

    Moni the Goat-Boy Johanna Spyri
  • He went in and selected a couple of chamois skins, very thick and strong.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • “If not, he should learn,” said the chamois hunter, viciously.

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • How the chamois hunter laughed at this, and showed his white teeth!

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • Those who, like the chamois (and the plant I spoke of) live only in high places.

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • “You shall have the milk, lady,” returned the chamois hunter.

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • It should leap from crag to crag like the chamois of the Alps.

    The Girl on the Boat Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
  • By comparing him with the chamois, the insect, and the squirrel.

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature Ontario Ministry of Education
British Dictionary definitions for chamois


/ˈʃæmɪ; French ʃamwa/
noun (pl) -ois
(ˈʃæmwɑː). a sure-footed goat antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, inhabiting mountains of Europe and SW Asia, having vertical horns with backward-pointing tips
a soft suede leather formerly made from the hide of this animal, now obtained from the skins of sheep and goats
Also called chamois leather, shammy, shammy leather, chammy, chammy leather (ˈʃæmɪ). a piece of such leather or similar material used for polishing, etc
  1. a yellow to greyish-yellow colour
  2. (as modifier): a chamois stamp
verb (transitive)
to dress (leather or skin) like chamois
to polish with a chamois
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, from Late Latin camox of uncertain origin
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 chamois

1550s, "Alpine antelope;" 1570s, "soft leather," originally "skin of the chamois," from Middle French chamois "Alpine antelope" (14c.), from Late Latin camox (genitive camocis), perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language that also produced Italian camoscio, Spanish camuza, Old High German gamiza, German Gemse (though some of these might be from Latin camox). As a verb, "to polish with chamois," from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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