American chameleon


noun

See under chameleon(def 2).

Origin of American chameleon

An Americanism dating back to 1880–85

Definition for american chameleon (2 of 2)

chameleon

[ kuh-mee-lee-uh n, -meel-yuh n ]
/ kəˈmi li ən, -ˈmil yən /

noun

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.
any of several American lizards capable of changing the color of the skin, especially Anolis carolinensis (American chameleon), of the southeastern U.S.
a changeable, fickle, or inconstant person.
(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) + léōn lion; replacing Middle English camelion < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related formscha·me·le·on·ic [kuh-mee-lee-on-ik] /kəˌmi liˈɒn ɪk/, adjectivecha·me·le·on·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for american chameleon (1 of 2)

American chameleon


noun

another name for anole

British Dictionary definitions for american chameleon (2 of 2)

chameleon

/ (kəˈmiːlɪən) /

noun

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
a changeable or fickle person
Derived Formschameleonic (kəˌmiːlɪˈɒnɪk), adjectivechameleon-like, adjective

Word Origin for chameleon

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

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