Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An eccentric or multiply curved wheel mounted on a rotating shaft, used to produce variable or reciprocating motion in another engaged or contacted part.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A turning or sliding piece which imparts motion to a rod, lever or block brought into sliding or rolling contact with it.
  • n. A camming device, a spring-loaded device for effecting a temporary belay in a rock crevice.
  • n. camera
  • v. To go on webcam with someone
  • adv. Alternative form of kam.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A turning or sliding piece which, by the shape of its periphery or face, or a groove in its surface, imparts variable or intermittent motion to, or receives such motion from, a rod, lever, or block brought into sliding or rolling contact with it.
  • n. A curved wedge, movable about an axis, used for forcing or clamping two pieces together.
  • n. A projecting part of a wheel or other moving piece so shaped as to give alternate or variable motion to another piece against which it acts.
  • n. A ridge or mound of earth.
  • adj. Crooked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A comb.
  • n. A ridge, hedge, or long earthen mound.
  • n. In machinery, a device for converting a regular rotary motion into an irregular, fast and slow, intermittent rotary or reciprocating motion. It properly includes the cam-wheel, plain or geared, the cam-shaft, the heart-wheel, the wiper, the wiper-wheel, and the eccentric. The simplest form is that of a heart-shaped, lobe-shaped, or otherwise eccentric wheel, which imparts motion to another wheel either by means of gearing or by rolling contact. Instead of following the irregular face of the cam-wheel, the friction-wheel may travel in a curved race or guiding path on the side of a cam-disk, as in the cam-wheel of a harvester. In another form of cam the face of the wheel is cut into gears or into projecting teeth that may engage another gear, or an arm or a pinion upon a shaft, to give a quickly changing rising and falling motion. Such cams are also called wiper-wheels, and are used to operate stamps and tilt-hammers. The heart-wheel accomplishes the same object, but In a less abrupt manner, while eccentric cams of various shapes may impart a slow thrust and quick return, as in many machine-tools. The wiper, a cam-shaped arm, is very generally used to operate the valves of beam-engines. The cam in some of its forms appears in a great variety of machines, wherever an irregular speed or motion or a rapid reciprocating motion is required, as in the harvester, printing-press, sewing-machine, etc. A cam-shaft is a shaft having tumblers or wipers. The heart-wheel is a heart-shaped cam. (See eccentric.) Cams for determining motion for cutting and tracing, as in certain machines, are called shaper-plates.
  • Crooked; bent or bending.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a river in east central England that flows past Cambridge to join the Ouse River
  • n. a rotating disk shaped to convert circular into linear motion

Etymologies

Dutch kam, cog, comb; see gembh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From camera, from the first part of Latin camera obscura ("dark chamber"), itself from Ancient Greek καμάρα (kamara, "vaulted chamber"), from Proto-Indo-European *kam- (“to arch”) (Wiktionary)

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