camel (n.)

"large ruminant quadruped used in Asia and Africa as a beast of burden," Old English camel, perhaps via Old North French camel (Old French chamel, Modern French chameau), from Latin camelus, from Greek kamelos, from Hebrew or Phoenician gamal, perhaps related to Arabic jamala "to bear."

Another Old English word for the beast was olfend, apparently based on confusion of camels with elephants in a place and time when both were unknown but for travelers' vague descriptions. The confusion was general in the older Germanic languages (Gothic ulbandus, Old High German olbenta, Old Saxon olbhunt, Old Norse ulfaldi). Also compare camelopard. Of the two distinct species, the Arabian has one hump (the lighter, thoroughbred variety is the dromedary); the Bactrian has two. The camel-walk dance style is recorded from 1919.

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