cam·​el | \ ˈka-məl How to pronounce camel (audio) \
plural camels

Definition of camel

1 : either of two large ruminant (see ruminant entry 1) mammals (genus Camelus) that have one or two large humps of stored fat on the back and are used as draft and saddle animals in desert regions especially of Africa and Asia:
a : the one-humped camel (C. dromedarius) extant only as a domestic or feral animal : dromedary
b : the 2-humped camel (C. bactrianus synonym C. ferus) of desert and steppe regions of northwestern China and southwestern Mongolia : bactrian camel
2 : a watertight structure used especially to lift submerged ships
3 : a light yellowish brown
4a : camel hair sense 2 "… So we're going to look for more luxury fabrics—cashmere, camel, alpaca and … lambswools."— Paul Diamond usually used before another nouna genuine camel coat
b : leather made from the skin of a camel They all have four-digit price tags and are crafted from luxe leathers like buffalo, calfskin and camel.— Georgina Safe usually used before another nouncamel leather

Illustration of camel

Illustration of camel

camel 1: 1 dromedary, 2 Bactrian camel

Examples of camel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The food lives up to its vaunted reputation, with revelatory homemade sun bread and camel tagine that effortlessly falls from the bone. Brian Freedman, Travel + Leisure, "Going Home: A Chef’s Journey to the Culinary Soul of Egypt," 29 June 2020 For many, this week's gaffe was also the straw that broke the camel's back. Jeva Lange, TheWeek, "The misdirected ire at WHO," 10 June 2020 To them, the Portuguese seemed just like any other trade-hungry barbarians who had ventured to China by boat, horse, and camel over many centuries—whether Sogdian, Indian, Persian, or Japanese. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "When China Met the West," 6 June 2020 Strapped to the camel’s back was a headless skeleton, as if the Red Ghost was being commanded from beyond the grave. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Arizona's most notable ghosts, from a jilted lover to a rampaging camel," 24 Oct. 2019 The experience begins with the viewing of animals ranging from kangaroos, camels, emus, llamas, yaks, sheep, goats and more. Dave Clark,, "With Florence Y'alls sidelined, UC Health Stadium welcomes drive-thru animal farm," 15 May 2020 The boisterous scene featured soldiers on camels, a mix of songs from Bollywood hits and the Trump campaign rally playlist, including an Elton John hit that seemed to puzzle most of the crowd. CBS News, "Trump on whirlwind, pageantry-filled visit to India," 24 Feb. 2020 For some families, politics talk can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Lisa Donovan,, "The Spin: Let’s talk turkey about politics conversations at the Thanksgiving table," 26 Nov. 2019 Over time, at some point there’s going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Jay Jones, Los Angeles Times, "Wynn-Encore in Las Vegas to drop valet parking fees. Yep, back to free parking," 18 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'camel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of camel

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for camel

Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French, from Latin camelus, from Greek kamēlos, of Semitic origin; akin to Hebrew gāmāl camel

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Time Traveler for camel

Time Traveler

The first known use of camel was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Camel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for camel


How to pronounce camel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of camel

: a large animal of Africa and Asia that has a long neck and one or two large humps on its back and that is often used for desert travel


cam·​el | \ ˈka-məl How to pronounce camel (audio) \

Kids Definition of camel

: a large animal that has one or two large humps on its back and is used in the deserts of Asia and Africa for carrying passengers and loads

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More from Merriam-Webster on camel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with camel

Spanish Central: Translation of camel

Nglish: Translation of camel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of camel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about camel

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