early 15c., kaadmaheu, camew, chamehieux and many other spellings (from early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "engraving in relief upon a precious stone with two layers of colors" (such as onyx, agate, or shell) and done so as to utilize the effect of the colors, from Old French camaieu and directly from Medieval Latin cammaeus, which is of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Arabic qamaa'il "flower buds," or Persian chumahan "agate."
In 19c. it also was used of other raised, carved work on a miniature scale. The transferred sense of "small character or part that stands out from other minor parts" in a play, etc., is from 1928, from an earlier meaning "short literary sketch or portrait" (1851), a transferred sense from cameo silhouettes. A cameotype (1864) was a small, vignette daguerreotype mounted in a jeweled setting.
1708, "vaulted building; arched roof or ceiling," from Latin camera "a vault, vaulted room" (source also of Italian camera, Spanish camara, French chambre), from Greek kamara "vaulted chamber, anything with an arched cover," which is of uncertain origin. A doublet of chamber. Old Church Slavonic komora, Lithuanian kamara, Old Irish camra all are borrowings from Latin.
The word also was used from early 18c. as a short form of Modern Latin camera obscura "dark chamber" (a black box with a lens that could project images of external objects), contrasted with camera lucida (c. 1750, Latin for "light chamber"), which uses prisms to produce an image of a distant object on paper beneath the instrument which can be traced.
This sense was expanded to become the word for "picture-taking device used by photographers" (the thing a modification of the camera obscura) when modern photography began c. 1840. The word was extended to television filming devices from 1928. Camera-shy is attested from 1890. Camera-man is from 1908.
also camerlingo, "papal chamberlain," having charge of the secular interests of the papacy, 1620s, from Italian camerlingo "chamberlain" (see chamberlain).
Highland clan name, from Gaelic camshron "wry or hooked nose" (the Highland clan; the Lowland name is for a locality in Fife). The Cameronians (1680s) were followers of Richard Cameron in Scotland who refused to accept the indulgence of Charles II during the prosecution of the Presbyterians.
nation in West Africa, its name is taken from the Englished form of the former name of the River Wouri, which was called by the Portuguese Rio dos Camarões "river of prawns" (16c.) for the abundance of these they found in its broad estuary. camarões is from Latin cammarus "a crawfish, prawn."
fem. proper name, from Latin, fem. of Camillus, cognomen of several members of the gens Furia, from camillus "noble youth attending at sacrifices," a word perhaps from Etruscan.
1816, "short, light garment with sleeves," formerly worn by women as morning-dress, from French camisole (16c.), from Provençal camisola "mantle," diminutive of camisa "shirt," from Late Latin camisia "shirt, nightgown" (see chemise). In modern use a sleeveless undergarment for women (1900). In late 19c. it generally meant "strait-jacket, a restraint for lunatics."