Printable Version
Pronunciation: -mê-flahzh Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Disguise of an object to make it blend in with its surroundings. 2. Material used to create such a disguise.

Notes: Today's Good Word may be used as a verb meaning "to apply camouflage or otherwise disguise", as 'to camouflage a tank'. Also this word is often clipped to simply camo for those whose impatience is such that the third syllable is just too much. The possessional adjective meaning "having camouflage" is camouflaged. Don't forget the U in the middle of this word after the O.

In Play: Can you see me?This word is used today most widely in the military and among members of the various "militias" in the US: "Not only did Manley build a bomb shelter, he covered his truck with camouflage that made it appear from the air like an outhouse." Here is a metaphorical use where you may replace camouflage with disguise: "Herndon could not camouflage his conservative opinions by attending progressive gatherings because he couldn't control his temper."

Word History: Today's word was stripped from French camouflage, the noun from the verb camoufler "to disguise, to conceal, to camouflage". French borrowed this word from Italian camuffare "to disguise", probably a compression of the phrase capo muffare "muffle the head". When this word was borrowed, it was subjected to the influence of camouflet "puff of smoke", where it picked up the L after the F. We can't follow this word back any further, but we can find traces of the Latin in most Romance languages. Moufle is the current French word for "mitten". This sense followed it into English where it spread to become muff, muffle, and muffler. (There is no way we can camouflage our gratitude to Tony Bowden for today's Good Word with the mysterious history.)

Dr. Goodword,

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