From Italian cammeo. The movie sense is short for “cameo role” referring to a famous person who was playing no character, but him or herself. Like a cameo brooch — a low-relief carving of a person’s head or bust — the actor or celebrity is instantly recognizable. More recently, it has come to refer to any short appearances, whether as a character or as oneself.
cameo (plural cameos)
- A piece of jewelry, etc., carved in relief.
- A single very brief appearance, especially by a prominent celebrity in a movie or song.
- Famous comic book writer Stan Lee had a cameo in the Spider-Man movie. He was on screen for perhaps ten seconds, but aficionados distinctly remember him.
- To appear in a cameo role.