[ kuh-mee-lee-uhn, -meel-yuhn ]
See synonyms for chameleon on
  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.

  1. a changeable, fickle, or inconstant person.

  2. (initial capital letter)Astronomy. Chamaeleon.

Origin of chameleon

1300–50; variant of chamaeleon<Latin <Greek chamailéōn, equivalent to chamaí on the ground, dwarf (akin to humus) + léōnlion; replacing Middle English camelion<Middle French <Latin, as above

Other words from chameleon

  • cha·me·le·on·ic [kuh-mee-lee-on-ik], /kəˌmi liˈɒn ɪk/, adjective
  • cha·me·le·on·like, adjective

Words Nearby chameleon Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use chameleon in a sentence

  • That is a research which yields no statistics, an enquiry like asking what is the ruling colour of a chameleon.

    The New Machiavelli | Herbert George Wells
  • Only a lizard scuttling over the dark-washed bedroom wall, first cousin to the chameleon you saw at Abu Simbel.

  • I am unstable as water; incoherent, inconsistent, a very chameleon!

    The Child of Pleasure | Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • From Forbess work we extract the following particulars respecting The chameleon.

  • If one has a chameleon's tongue, cut out before the creature's death, he may defy all the sharpers in the world.

British Dictionary definitions for chameleon


/ (kəˈmiːlɪən) /

  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

Origin of chameleon

C14: from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek khamaileōn, from khamai on the ground + leōn lion

Derived forms of chameleon

  • chameleonic (kəˌmiːlɪˈɒnɪk), adjective
  • chameleon-like, adjective

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