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[sham-ee; French sha-mwah] /ˈʃæm i; French ʃaˈmwɑ/
noun, plural chamois, chamoix
[sham-eez; French sha-mwah] /ˈʃæm iz; French ʃaˈmwɑ/ (Show IPA)
an agile, goatlike antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, of high mountains of Europe: now rare in some areas.
a soft, pliable leather from any of various skins dressed with oil, especially fish oil, originally prepared from the skin of the chamois.
a piece of this leather.
a cotton cloth finished to simulate this leather.
a medium to grayish yellow color.
verb (used with object), chamoised
[sham-eed] /ˈʃæm id/ (Show IPA),
[sham-ee-ing] /ˈʃæm i ɪŋ/ (Show IPA)
to dress (a pelt) with oil in order to produce a chamois.
to rub or buff with a chamois.
Also, chammy, shammy, shamoy (for defs 2–4, 6, 7).
Origin of chamois
1525-35; < Middle French < Late Latin camox, presumably of pre-Latin orig.; cf. gems Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for chamois
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Not even the tender ministrations of chamois cloth will soothe its savage heart.

    Bizarre Lawton Mackall
  • He turned away, bounding from rock to rock with the agility of a chamois.

    Samuel Brohl & Company Victor Cherbuliez
  • He pointed to a large, perfect pearl the size of a small walnut that lay apart on a piece of chamois.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • Only a fox or an Alpine chamois could make that perilous descent.

    Greyfriars Bobby Eleanor Atkinson
  • Nevertheless, sude and chamois gloves are likely to remain fashionable to a more or less extent.

    Leather K. J. Adcock
  • The high place is the home of the chamois, out of reach of the arrow.

  • Gorals are pretty little animals of the size of the chamois.

    Camps and Trails in China Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews
  • Then she dried it with the chamois skins as she often had done before.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • To polish them, dip a rag in hydrochloric acid and rub till clean; then dry in hot sawdust and polish with chamois leather.

British Dictionary definitions for chamois


/ˈʃæmɪ; French ʃamwa/
noun (pl) -ois
(ˈʃæmwɑː). a sure-footed goat antelope, Rupicapra rupicapra, inhabiting mountains of Europe and SW Asia, having vertical horns with backward-pointing tips
a soft suede leather formerly made from the hide of this animal, now obtained from the skins of sheep and goats
Also called chamois leather, shammy, shammy leather, chammy, chammy leather (ˈʃæmɪ). a piece of such leather or similar material used for polishing, etc
  1. a yellow to greyish-yellow colour
  2. (as modifier): a chamois stamp
verb (transitive)
to dress (leather or skin) like chamois
to polish with a chamois
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, from Late Latin camox 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 chamois

1550s, "Alpine antelope;" 1570s, "soft leather," originally "skin of the chamois," from Middle French chamois "Alpine antelope" (14c.), from Late Latin camox (genitive camocis), perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language that also produced Italian camoscio, Spanish camuza, Old High German gamiza, German Gemse (though some of these might be from Latin camox). As a verb, "to polish with chamois," from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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chamois in the Bible

only in Deut. 14:5 (Heb. zemer), an animal of the deer or gazelle species. It bears this Hebrew name from its leaping or springing. The animal intended is probably the wild sheep (Ovis tragelephus), which is still found in Sinai and in the broken ridges of Stony Arabia. The LXX. and Vulgate render the word by camelopardus, i.e., the giraffe; but this is an animal of Central Africa, and is not at all known in Syria.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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