chameleon[kə mē′lē ən, -mēl′yən]
- The definition of a chameleon is a lizard that can change colors to match its surroundings, or a person who changes their personality depending on who they are with.
- A lizard that changes its colors regularly is an example of a chameleon.
- A person who is a party-girl with some friends and who claims to look down on the party-lifestyle with other friends is an example of a chameleon.
The lizard known as a chameleon.
- any of various Old World lizards (family Chamaeleontidae) with an angular head, prehensile tail, eyes that move independently of each other, the ability to change skin color rapidly, and a long, agile tongue for catching prey
- any of various superficially similar lizards that can change the color of their skin, as the American chameleon
- a changeable or fickle person
Origin of chameleonMiddle English camelioun ; from Classical Latin chamaeleon ; from Classical Greek chamaileōn ; from chamai, on the ground (akin to chthōn, earth: see homage) + leōn, lion
- Any of various tropical lizards of the family Chamaeleonidae, chiefly of Africa and Madagascar, having a prehensile tail, eyes that can move independently, and the ability to change color.
- An anole lizard, especially Anolis carolinensis of the southeast United States.
- A changeable or inconstant person: “In his testimony, the nominee came off as &ellipsis; a chameleon of legal philosophy” (Joseph A. Califano, Jr.)
Origin of chameleonMiddle English camelioun, from Latin chamaeleōn, from Greek khamaileōn : khamai, on the ground; see dhghem- in Indo-European roots + leōn, lion (translation of Akkadian nēš qaqqari, ground lion, lizard : Akkadian nēšu, lion + Akkadian qaqqari, genitive of qaqqaru, the earth, ground); see Lion .
- 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.
- A person with inconstant behavior; one able to quickly adjust to new circumstances.
- (physics) A hypothetical scalar particle with a non-linear self-interaction, giving it an effective mass that depends on its environment: the presence of other fields.
From Middle English camelion, from Old French cameleon, from Latin chamaeleon, from Ancient Greek χαμαιλέων (khamaileōn), from χαμαί (khamai, “on the earth, on the ground”) + λέων (leon, “lion”). Spelling relatinized early 18c.