noun, often attributive \kə-ˈmēl-yən\

: a type of lizard that can change the color of its skin to look like the colors that are around it

: a person who often changes his or her beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed

Full Definition of CHAMELEON

:  any of a family (Chamaeleontidae) of chiefly arboreal Old World lizards with prehensile tail, independently movable eyeballs, and unusual ability to change the color of the skin
a :  a person given to often expedient or facile change in ideas or character
b :  one that is subject to quick or frequent change especially in appearance
cha·me·le·on·ic \-ˌmē-lē-ˈä-nik\ adjective
cha·me·leon·like \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of CHAMELEON

  1. <at the summer resort he acquired a reputation as a social chameleon—someone who could be whatever his hosts wanted him to be>


Middle English camelion, from Middle French, from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek chamaileōn, from chamai on the ground + leōn lion — more at humble
First Known Use: 14th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any member of a group of primarily tree-dwelling Old World lizards in the family Chamaeleonidae, characterized chiefly by their ability to change body colour. Other traits include toes fused into opposite bundles of two and three, teeth attached to the jaw edge, and a long, slender, extensile tongue. About half of the 150 species are found only in Madagascar; the others occur mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, only a few elsewhere. Most are 7–10 in. (17–25 cm) long, with a body flattened from side to side. The bulged eyes move independently. Each species can undergo a particular range of colour change. Insects are the main diet, but larger species also eat birds.


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