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[kam-uh-flahzh] /ˈkæm əˌflɑʒ/
the act, means, or result of obscuring things to deceive an enemy, as by painting or screening objects so that they are lost to view in the background, or by making up objects that from a distance have the appearance of fortifications, guns, roads, etc.:
Was camouflage used extensively on fighter aircraft during World War I?
concealment by some means that alters or obscures the appearance:
Drab plumage provides the bird with camouflage against predators.
a device or stratagem used for concealment:
His loud laughter is really camouflage for his basic shyness.
Synonyms: mask, blind, front, cover.
clothing made of fabric with a mottled design, usually in shades of green and brown, as that used in military camouflage:
The street vendors are all selling camouflage this week: pants, jackets, T-shirts, even underwear!
(of fabric or clothing) made with or having a mottled design, as that used in military camouflage:
a camouflage T-shirt.
verb (used with object), camouflaged, camouflaging.
to disguise by means of camouflage:
to camouflage ships by painting them gray.
verb (used without object), camouflaged, camouflaging.
to use camouflage:
The angel shark camouflages in the sand.
1915-20; < French, equivalent to camoufl(er) to disguise (probably a verbal derivative of camouflet; see camouflet) + -age -age
Related forms
camouflageable, adjective
camouflager, noun
camouflagic, adjective
uncamouflaged, adjective
well-camouflaged, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for camouflage
  • White can't camouflage a coffee stain or chocolate smudge like the dark colors and floral prints traditionally used in hotels.
  • But midway through their performance, the Oldies stripped off their black smocks, revealing camouflage tank tops and black shirts.
  • The polar bear's fur appears white, serving as camouflage against snow and ice.
  • Chameleons can crank up the camouflage to fool sharp-eyed stalkers.
  • He doesn't attempt to camouflage it under gentler, kinder, woolly-minded language.
  • This squid has small light organs on the underside of its body for camouflage.
  • No amount of populist pep talk can camouflage the fact that Ulysses is a demanding book.
  • Unfortunately, the sonorous prose and Moser's haunting engravings fail to camouflage a simplistic plot and shaky premise.
  • The husky 42-year-old, sporting a camouflage-patterned T-shirt and sunglasses, has angry red bumps on his calloused hands.
  • The bear's stark white coat provides camouflage in surrounding snow and ice.
British Dictionary definitions for camouflage


the exploitation of natural surroundings or artificial aids to conceal or disguise the presence of military units, equipment, etc
(modifier) (of fabric or clothing) having a design of irregular patches of dull colours (such as browns and greens), as used in military camouflage
the means by which animals escape the notice of predators, usually because of a resemblance to their surroundings: includes cryptic and apatetic coloration
a device or expedient designed to conceal or deceive
(transitive) to conceal by camouflage
Word Origin
C20: from French, from camoufler, from Italian camuffare to disguise, deceive, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for camouflage

1917, noun, verb, and adjective, from French camoufler, Parisian slang, "to disguise," from Italian camuffare "to disguise," of uncertain origin, perhaps a contraction of capo muffare "to muffle the head." Probably altered by influence of French camouflet "puff of smoke," on the notion of "blow smoke in someone's face." The British navy in World War I called it dazzle-painting.

Since the war started the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY has published photographs of big British and French field pieces covered with shrubbery, railway trains "painted out" of the landscape, and all kinds of devices to hide the guns, trains, and the roads from the eyes of enemy aircraft.

Until recently there was no one word in any language to explain this war trick. Sometimes a whole paragraph was required to explain this military practice. Hereafter one word, a French word, will save all this needless writing and reading. Camouflage is the new word, and it means "fooling the enemy." ["Popular Science Monthly," August 1917]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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camouflage in Science
Protective coloring or another feature that conceals an animal and enables it to blend into its surroundings. Compare warning coloration.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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