chameleon

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chameleonantipodean, Crimean, Judaean, Korean •Albion •Gambian, Zambian •lesbian •Arabian, Bessarabian, Fabian, gabion, Sabian, Swabian •amphibian, Libyan, Namibian •Sorbian •Danubian, Nubian •Colombian • Serbian • Nietzschean •Chadian, Trinidadian •Andean, Kandyan •guardian •Acadian, Akkadian, Arcadian, Barbadian, Canadian, circadian, Grenadian, Hadean, Orcadian, Palladian, radian, steradian •Archimedean, comedian, epicedian, median, tragedian •ascidian, Derridean, Dravidian, enchiridion, Euclidean, Floridian, Gideon, Lydian, meridian, Numidian, obsidian, Pisidian, quotidian, viridian •Amerindian, Indian •accordion, Edwardian •Cambodian, collodion, custodian, melodeon, nickelodeon, Odeon •Freudian • Bermudian • Burundian •Burgundian •Falstaffian, Halafian •Christadelphian, Delphian, Philadelphian •nymphean • ruffian • Brobdingnagian •Carolingian • Swedenborgian •logion, Muskogean •Jungian •magian, Pelagian •collegian •callipygian, Cantabrigian, Phrygian, Stygian •Merovingian • 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•Carthusian, Malthusian, Venusian

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cha·me·le·on / kəˈmēlyən; -lēən/ (chiefly Brit. also chamaeleon) • n. a small Old World lizard (Chamaeleo and other genera, family Chamaeleonidae) with a prehensile tail, extensible tongue, and the ability to change color. Numerous species include the common chameleon (C. chamaeleon). ∎  (also American chameleon) an anole. ∎ fig. a changeable or inconstant person. DERIVATIVES: cha·me·le·on·ic / kəˌmēlēˈänik/ adj.

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CHAMELEON

CHAMELEON , reptile of the family Chamaeleonidae, of which only one species, Chamaeleo chamaeleon, is found in Israel. It changes the color of its skin, according to that of its surroundings, to yellow, green, and black. In Aramaic the chameleon was known as zikita (Sanh. 108b), that which snuffs the wind, or hisses, or inflates itself with air. According to Pliny (Historia naturalis, 8:51), it "lives on the air" which it inhales. When in danger, it hisses. It is apparently identical to the tinshemet (from the root נשם, "to breathe"), which is included among unclean, swarming things (Lev. 11:30); however, in verse 18, tinshemet is mentioned among the birds and refers to a bird that hisses (see *owls).

bibliography:

Tristram, Nat Hist, 262; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 101; Lewysohn, Zool, 224f.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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chameleon Arboreal lizard, found chiefly in Madagascar, Africa and Asia, notable for its ability to change colour. The compressed body has a curled, prehensile tail and bulging eyes that move independently. Length: 17–60cm (7–24in). Family Chamaeleontidae; genus Chamaeleo; there are 80 species.

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chameleon XIV — L. chamæleōn — Gr. khamailéōn, f. khamaí on the ground (rel. to HUMUS) + léōn LION.

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chameleon from this lizard's highly developed ability to change colour, it has become the type of a changeable or inconstant person.

The name is recorded from Middle English, and comes via Latin from Greek khamaileōn, from khamai ‘on the ground’ + leōn ‘lion’.

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