Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various tropical Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleonidae, characterized by their ability to change color.
  • n. See anole.
  • n. A changeable or inconstant person: "In his testimony, the nominee came off as . . . a chameleon of legal philosophy” ( Joseph A. Califano, Jr.)

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small to mid-size reptile, of the family Chamaeleonidae, and one of the best known lizard families able to change color and project its long tongue.
  • n. A person with inconstant behavior; one able to quickly adjust to new circumstances.
  • adj. Describing something that changes color.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A lizardlike reptile of the genus Chamæleo, of several species, found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The skin is covered with fine granulations; it has eyes which can move separately, the tail is prehensile, and the body is much compressed laterally, giving it a high back. It is remarkable for its ability to change the color of its skin to blend with its surroundings.
  • n. a person who changes opinions, ideas, or behavior to suit the prevailing social climate; an opportunist.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A lizard-like reptile of the family Chamæleontidæ, having a naked body, a prehensile tail, feet suited for grasping branches, and the eye covered by a single circular eyelid with an aperture in the center.
  • n. In the southern United States and West Indies, a true lizard of the family Anolididæ or Iguanidæ. Also chamæleo.
  • n. [capitalized] A constellation invented by Bayer, situated beneath the feet of the Centaur.
  • n. Same as chamæleon, 3.

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

  • n. lizard of Africa and Madagascar able to change skin color and having a projectile tongue
  • n. a faint constellation in the polar region of the southern hemisphere near Apus and Mensa
  • n. a changeable or inconstant person

Etymologies

Middle English camelioun, from Latin chamaeleōn, from Greek khamaileōn : khamai, on the ground; leōn, lion (loan translation of Akkadian nēš qaqqari, ground lion, lizard); see lion.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin chamaeleon, from Ancient Greek χαμαιλέων (khamaileōn), from χαμαί (khamai, "on the earth, on the ground") + λέων (leon, "lion"). First attested in 1340. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • The chameleon changes his colour;
    He can look like a tree or a wall;
    He is timid and shy and hates to be seen,
    So he simply sits down on the grass and grows green,
    And pretends he is nothing at all.

    - A. P. Herbert, 'The Chameleon'.

    November 8, 2008

  • "'I'm going now, and you can vote. But remember, you are all potentially chameleons of the spirit, and thus of all the illusions that rob men of their divinity this is the cruelest; to call the rocklike burdensome shell of 'character' and 'individuality' man's greatest development. It's like praising a boat for its anchor.'"
    - 'The Dice Man', Luke Rhinehart.

    February 4, 2008