Origin of camouflage

1915–20; < French, equivalent to camoufl(er) to disguise (probably a verbal derivative of camouflet; see camouflet) + -age -age
Related formscam·ou·flage·a·ble, adjectivecam·ou·flag·er, nouncam·ou·flag·ic, adjectiveun·cam·ou·flaged, adjectivewell-cam·ou·flaged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for camouflage

Contemporary Examples of camouflage

Historical Examples of camouflage

  • They have been and are the chief criminals, and no camouflage to which they may resort will save them.

  • But from aloft Chris saw the trick and how the camouflage was worked.

    Raiders Invisible

    Desmond Winter Hall

  • All that talk about me is just camouflage to save him answerin' my question.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • I unzipped the front of my camouflage suit and pulled out the blueprints.

    The Repairman

    Harry Harrison

  • But I am willing to camouflage the investigation if necessary.

    Cubs of the Wolf

    Raymond F. Jones

British Dictionary definitions for camouflage



the exploitation of natural surroundings or artificial aids to conceal or disguise the presence of military units, equipment, etc
(modifier) (of fabric or clothing) having a design of irregular patches of dull colours (such as browns and greens), as used in military camouflage
the means by which animals escape the notice of predators, usually because of a resemblance to their surroundings: includes cryptic and apatetic coloration
a device or expedient designed to conceal or deceive


(tr) to conceal by camouflage

Word Origin for camouflage

C20: from French, from camoufler, from Italian camuffare to disguise, deceive, 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 camouflage

1917, noun, verb, and adjective, from French camoufler, Parisian slang, "to disguise," from Italian camuffare "to disguise," of uncertain origin, perhaps a contraction of capo muffare "to muffle the head." Probably altered by influence of French camouflet "puff of smoke," on the notion of "blow smoke in someone's face." The British navy in World War I called it dazzle-painting.

Since the war started the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY has published photographs of big British and French field pieces covered with shrubbery, railway trains "painted out" of the landscape, and all kinds of devices to hide the guns, trains, and the roads from the eyes of enemy aircraft.

Until recently there was no one word in any language to explain this war trick. Sometimes a whole paragraph was required to explain this military practice. Hereafter one word, a French word, will save all this needless writing and reading. Camouflage is the new word, and it means "fooling the enemy." ["Popular Science Monthly," August 1917]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

camouflage in Science



Protective coloring or another feature that conceals an animal and enables it to blend into its surroundings. Compare warning coloration.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.