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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.
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.