chameleonic

cha·me·leon (kə-mēl’yən, -mē’lē-ən)
n. 1) 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. 2) An anole lizard, especially Anolis carolinensis of the southeast United States. 3) A changeable or inconstant person: »

"In his testimony, the nominee came off as ... a chameleon of legal philosophy"

(Joseph A. Califano, Jr.)
[Middle English camelioun, from Latin chamaeleōn, from Greek khamaileōn : khamai, on the ground; see dhghem- + leōn, lion (translation of Akkadian nēš qaqqari, ground lion, lizard : Akkadian nēšu, lion + Akkadian qaqqari, genitive of qaqqaru, the earth, ground); see LION(Cf. ↑lion).]
cha·me′le·on’ic (-lē-ŏn’ĭk) adj.
Word History: The words referring to the animal chameleon and the plant chamomile are related etymologically by a reference to the place one would expect to find them, that is, on the ground. The first part of both words goes back to the Greek form khamai, meaning "on the ground." What is found on the ground in each case is quite different, of course. The khamaileōn is a "lion (leōn) on the ground," a term translating the phrase nēš qaqqari, "chameleon" in Akkadian, the Semitic language spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The khamaimēlon is "an apple (mēlon) on the ground," so named because the blossoms of at least one species of the plants called chamomile have an applelike scent. Chameleon and chamomile are also related etymologically to another earthly life form, one whose earthliness was contrasted with that of the gods. Greek khamai shares the same Indo-European root, *dhghem-, "earth," as the Latin words homō and hūmōnus, the source of English Homo sapiens and human.
chameleon
Parson's chameleon
Calumma parsonii

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • chameleonic — chameleon (also chamaeleon) ► NOUN ▪ a small slow moving lizard with a long extensible tongue, protruding eyes, and the ability to change colour. DERIVATIVES chameleonic adjective. ORIGIN Greek khamaile n, from khamai on the ground + le n lion …   English terms dictionary

  • chameleonic — adjective see chameleon …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • chameleonic — See chameleon. * * * …   Universalium

  • chameleonic — adjective Resembling a chameleon: readily changing color or other attributes …   Wiktionary

  • chameleonic — cha·me·le·on·ic …   English syllables

  • chameleonic — kə|mēlē|änik adjective : like a chameleon in changeability : assuming varying hues : inconstant …   Useful english dictionary

  • chameleon — chameleonic /keuh mee lee on ik/, adj. chameleonlike, adj. /keuh mee lee euhn, meel yeuhn/, n. 1. any of numerous Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleontidae, characterized by the ability to change the color of their skin, very slow… …   Universalium

  • chameleon-like — chameleonic / i onˈik/ and chamelˈeon like adjective • • • Main Entry: ↑chameleon …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cillian Murphy — Murphy in 2010 Born 25 May 1976 (1976 05 25) (age 35) Douglas, County Cork, Ireland …   Wikipedia

  • chameleon — noun Usage: often attributive Etymology: Middle English camelion, from Middle French, from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek chamaileōn, from chamai on the ground + leōn lion more at humble Date: 14th century 1. any of a family (Chamaeleontidae) of… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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