Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day
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Thursday word: chameleon

I've been doing lizard names over in my main journal.


chameleon (kuh-MEE-lee-uhn, kuh-MEEL-yuhn) - n., any about 200 species of tropical lizards (family Chamaeleontidae), mostly from Africa and Madagascar, with the ability to change the color of their skin, prehensile tail, and a projectile tongue; a changeable, fickle, or inconstant person.


Most are small- to mid-sized reptiles, and contra what most believe (and I wrote in the definition) not all of them can change colors. Is the name three syllables or four? That's up to you. I suspect I change my pronunciation depending on the rhythm of the sentence. It's a chameleon pronunciation.

The name first appears in English in the 14th century as camelion, from Medieval French, from Latin chamaeleon (the classical -h- was restored in English early 18 century), from Greek khamaileōn, from khamai, on the ground + leōn, lion, a word-for-word translation of Akkadian nēš qaqqari, literally lion of the ground, used as name some sort of lizard, possibly in fact a chameleon but we're not sure.

A common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) feeling green:

Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.
Tags: akkadian, c, greek, noun
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