Originally: an anole (lizard). Later also (in form "Anolis"): a genus of lizards that comprises the anoles (family Polychrotidae or Iguanidae).
Valid publication of the genus name: F. M. Daudin in C. S. Sonnini Buffon's Hist. nat., gén. et particulière des reptiles (1802) IV. 89.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Phillips's New World of Words. From French anolis, reinterpretation of the plural form anolis as a Latinate singular.