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chamois

[sham-ee; French sha-mwah]
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noun, plural cham·ois, cham·oix [sham-eez; French sha-mwah] /ˈʃæm iz; French ʃaˈmwɑ/.
  1. an agile, goatlike antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, of high mountains of Europe: now rare in some areas.
  2. a soft, pliable leather from any of various skins dressed with oil, especially fish oil, originally prepared from the skin of the chamois.
  3. a piece of this leather.
  4. a cotton cloth finished to simulate this leather.
  5. a medium to grayish yellow color.
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verb (used with object), cham·oised [sham-eed] /ˈʃæm id/, cham·ois·ing [sham-ee-ing] /ˈʃæm i ɪŋ/.
  1. to dress (a pelt) with oil in order to produce a chamois.
  2. to rub or buff with a chamois.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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


British Dictionary definitions for chamois

chamois

noun plural -ois
  1. (ˈʃæmwɑː) a sure-footed goat antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, inhabiting mountains of Europe and SW Asia, having vertical horns with backward-pointing tips
  2. a soft suede leather formerly made from the hide of this animal, now obtained from the skins of sheep and goats
  3. Also called: chamois leather, shammy, shammy leather, chammy, chammy leather (ˈʃæmɪ) a piece of such leather or similar material used for polishing, etc
  4. (ˈʃæmwɑː)
    1. a yellow to greyish-yellow colour
    2. (as modifier)a chamois stamp
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verb (tr)
  1. to dress (leather or skin) like chamois
  2. to polish with a chamois
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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

Word Origin and History for chamois

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper