cameo

[kam-ee-oh]
noun, plural cameos.
1.
a technique of engraving upon a gem or other stone, as onyx, in such a way that an underlying stone of one color is exposed as a background for a low-relief design of another color.
2.
a gem or other stone so engraved.
3.
a literary sketch, small dramatic scene, or the like, that effectively presents or depicts its subject.
4.
Also called cameo role. a minor part played by a prominent performer in a single scene of a motion picture or a television play.

Origin:
1375–1425; < Italian cam(m)eo < Old French camaieu, of uncertain origin; replacing late Middle English camew, cameu < Old French

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World English Dictionary
cameo (ˈkæmɪˌəʊ)
 
n , pl cameos
1.  a.  a medallion, as on a brooch or ring, with a profile head carved in relief
 b.  (as modifier): a cameo necklace
2.  an engraving upon a gem or other stone of at least two differently coloured layers, such as sardonyx, so carved that the background is of a different colour from the raised design
3.  a stone with such an engraving
4.  a.  a single and often brief dramatic scene played by a well-known actor or actress in a film or television play
 b.  (as modifier): a cameo role
5.  a.  a short literary work or dramatic sketch
 b.  (as modifier): a cameo sketch
 
[C15: from Italian cammeo, of uncertain origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

cameo
16c., camuse, camfeo, etc. (from early 13c. in Anglo-L.), "carved precious stone with two layers of colors," from It. cammeo (13c.), from M.L. cammæus, of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Arabic qamaa'il "flower buds," or Pers. chumahan "agate." Transferred sense of "small character or part
that stands out from other minor parts" in a play, etc., is from 1928, from earlier meaning "short literary sketch or portrait" (1851).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
CAMEO
computer-aided management of emergency operations
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But speculation was rife that he would put in a cameo appearance to wow the faithful during the opening presentation.
He also made a cameo in the family guy episode blue harvest.
In my time a cameo set in pearls was thought sufficient.
It defined the first act, but now it's a cameo, backlit by the immense universe beyond.
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