Definition of chameleon in US English:

chameleon

(British chamaeleon)

noun

  • 1A small slow-moving Old World lizard with a prehensile tail, long extensible tongue, protruding eyes that rotate independently, and a highly developed ability to change color.

    Family Chamaeleonidae: four genera, in particular Chamaeleo, and numerous species, including the European chameleon (C. vulgaris) and the common chameleon (C. chamaeleon)

    • ‘These and a whole list of other questions far longer than a chameleon's telescopic tongue, still need to be answered.’
    • ‘Raxworthy and colleagues developed a computer model to study chameleons, lizards known for their ability to change color depending on their mood or surroundings, in Madagascar.’
    • ‘I watch the sky change its colour like a chameleon.’
    • ‘The team that saw France bestride the football world for the first time ever had more colours than a chameleon and, ultimately, did more for race relations than any number of government initiatives.’
    • ‘This is the last view myriad insects have in life before being swamped by a long, sticky tongue and sucked back into the chameleon's mouth.’
    • ‘We all understand the ability of the chameleon to change its colours to suit its environment.’
    • ‘This is similar in ways to the chameleon, a lizard which can alter the colour of its skin.’
    • ‘Similarly, some modern ectotherms, chameleons for example, have an erect posture.’
    • ‘According to Anderson, the ability of chameleons to change color stems from special cells called chromatophores found in the upper layers of their skin.’
    • ‘Chameleons such as this male Parson's chameleon from Madagascar change their skin color to hide and to communicate.’
    • ‘Their eyes move independently of each other, like those of a chameleon, and their bodies are covered by bony plates, similar to those of seahorses.’
    • ‘Everyone in Canada will now have the uncanny ability of the chameleon.’
    • ‘In the evening the Mekong always seemed to come alive, changing its colour like a chameleon, camouflaging itself against the darkening sky until it swallowed the sun.’
    • ‘Toys made of rubber in the shape of snakes, lizards, chameleons, scorpions and crabs are selling like hot cakes.’
    • ‘Remarkably, the loss of the tongue protractors in chameleons has not affected the external feeding kinematics.’
    • ‘It lacked the light brown fur, however, and instead owned a soft, fleshy skin with the abilities of a chameleon.’
    • ‘There are many other snakes of all different sizes, as well as chameleons, geckos, lizards, skinks, iguanas, spiders and huge tortoises.’
    • ‘A chameleon was shifting to match the kaleidoscope of colour given off by the lights of a gramophone record store.’
    • ‘The chameleon has the ability to bring long life or death, fecundity or barrenness, depending on its color.’
    • ‘It is as if to survive, it has had to change names, like a chameleon changing colours.’
    1. 1.1North American An anole (tree-dwelling lizard).
      • ‘The following are answers to several questions I have been asked recently about a common lizard of the Southeast, called green anoles by some people and American chameleons by others.’
      • ‘The American chameleon, or anole, is not a true chameleon, but a small lizard of the iguana family, found in the SE United States and noted for its color changes.’
      • ‘Turtles, crayfish, snails, fish, salamanders, American chameleons, newts, insects, bacteria, and algae all can be successfully raised in the River Tank, but questions remain as to which ones can coexist, and for how long, before being eaten by another inhabitant.’
      • ‘Contrary to popular belief, the American chameleon does not assume the color of its surroundings.’
      • ‘Most North American lizards belong to this family, including the collared lizards, the utas, the swifts, the so-called horned toads, or horned lizards, and the American chameleon, or anole (not a true chameleon).’
      • ‘In addition to iguanas, the Iguania include agamids, chameleons and a few lesser known groups.’
      • ‘There are no native American chameleons, although there are many pet chameleons.’
      • ‘Green anoles are often called American chameleons because of their ability to change color from bright green to brown to grey.’
      • ‘In the pure-cone American chameleon retina, all visual opsins including rod opsin are expressed.’
      • ‘They have been replaced by the corresponding segments of the pigment of American chameleon.’
      • ‘If the ventral curvature of tail is real, then that, in concert with its extremely narrow scaupulae, suggests that a more appropriate functional analog would be found in arboreal chameleons.’
      • ‘It happened because I was married to an American chameleon (I must mention here that American chameleons are not true chameleons - they look much the same but lack some of our more amazing abilities).’
      • ‘Among the saurian the iguanas can be pointed out, as well as the American chameleons and varanus.’
      • ‘We then started studying green anoles (otherwise known as American chameleons), the creatures that live in the grass that we planted.’
      • ‘They are often referred to as American chameleons, although they are unrelated to chameleons.’
      • ‘This is a common characteristic between American chameleons and those of Europe and Africa.’
    2. 1.2 A person who changes their opinions or behavior according to the situation.
      • ‘Before she was a fabulous comedy chameleon, Tracey Ullman was a teen dancer touring with a gaggle of chorus boys.’
      • ‘We would have to agree with this article, which dubs these guys "musical chameleons".’
      • ‘Particularly well known for her Rossini, the consummate singer-actress changes like a chameleon to adapt to the requirements of the repertoire.’
      • ‘He has always guarded his private life fiercely, arguing that talking about his off-screen relationships cheapens them and hampers his professional ability to be a chameleon.’
      • ‘Our actors are the chameleons who change words like parts but always deliver an essential truth.’
      • ‘Drew is one of those cinematic chameleons whose character changes to fit the scene, regardless of how preposterous the shift may be.’
      • ‘The most brilliant move by the director was the casting of artistic chameleon and rock-and-roll space oddity David Bowie.’
      • ‘It was impossible not to like this energetic chameleon, this part salesman, part bit actor and part seducer.’
      • ‘He had drive and would go out of his way to pursue a target; he's a chameleon and can change from one person to the next in order to seem compatible.’
      • ‘Listeners seemed divided over whether Skaggs or musical chameleon Elvis Costello stole Thursday's show.’
      • ‘The political chameleon changes its colors according to pressure, not conscience.’
      • ‘She describes herself as a nurse chameleon who has not changed her colors - she is just wearing them in a different medium.’
      • ‘The album received poor reviews and left many critics asking if pop's most successful chameleon had lost her touch.’
      • ‘Bowie remains the quintessential song-and-dance man, effortlessly charming and elegant, and as ever, a shameless karma chameleon.’
      • ‘To party cynics, she may be seen as a political chameleon, reinventing herself to charm the voters.’
      • ‘First and foremost is Mike Myers, who is known as a vocal chameleon.’
      • ‘As he showed yesterday, he is above all a brilliant political chameleon.’
      • ‘On his fifth album, Harper plays the role of musical chameleon, shifting and defying musical categorization.’
      • ‘Never transforming his image significantly, yet constantly changing roles like a chameleon.’
      • ‘Look at an actor who never ceases to amaze in his breathe of characters and you'll know she is not the only fashion chameleon around.’
      • ‘She alone was capable of the amazing things she mastered like a vocal chameleon.’
      • ‘I'm a Piscean, who admits to being a complete social chameleon, and I would be completely over-whelmed and swamped by the personalities of others.’
      • ‘The real surprise would be if the post-modern chameleon made two albums in a row that sounded alike.’
      • ‘He was a brilliant careerist and opportunist, a political chameleon whose life story seems more the stuff of fiction than of any kind of conventional history.’
      • ‘For those who prefer the actor as magician, chameleon, and master of disguises, no one has proved more satisfying than Sir Alec Guinness, who just died at age 86.’
      • ‘The strange thing about abusers is that they're like some kind of social chameleon.’
      • ‘I was the most extreme kind of musical chameleon.’
      • ‘You know, the wily old chameleon could still come out ahead.’

Origin

Middle English: via Latin chamaeleon from Greek khamaileōn, from khamai ‘on the ground’ + leōn ‘lion’.

Pronunciation

chameleon

/kəˈmēlyən//kəˈmiljən/