Definition of chameleon
- She's a political chameleon.
- Tourmaline is the chameleon of the gem kingdom because it can assume virtually any color.
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
at the summer resort he acquired a reputation as a social chameleon—someone who could be whatever his hosts wanted him to be
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chameleon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The chameleon is probably best known for the ability to change colors - but when the ancients named this lizard, they apparently had other qualities in mind. "Chameleon" comes to us, via Latin, from Greek chamaileōn, a combination of "chamai" ("on the ground") and "leōn" ("lion") - a tribute, perhaps, to the lizard's fearsome aspect. It is the ability of the chameleon to change colors, however, that has led to the figurative use of "chameleon" for someone or something that is quick to change. Such figurative use dates back to at least the late 16th century, as demonstrated by King James VI who, writing in 1586 or 1587, requested "I praye you not to takk me to be a Camelion."
: 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
See words that rhyme with chameleon Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chameleon Spanish Central: Translation of chameleon Nglish: Translation of chameleon for Spanish speakers Britannica English: Translation of chameleon for Arabic speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about chameleon
What made you want to look up chameleon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
of yeast or being unsettled or frivolous
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ