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[mur-meyd] /ˈmɜrˌmeɪd/
(in folklore) a female marine creature, having the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the tail of a fish.
a highly skilled female swimmer.
Origin of mermaid
1300-50; Middle English mermayde. See mere2, maid Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mermaid
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Graziella gladly consented, and Bonnetta stayed below with the mermaid.

  • "Yet it would be classical to dote upon a mermaid," Caius murmured.

    The Mermaid Lily Dougall
  • All the pretty heads were a foot under ground, and the roots, like the locks of a mermaid, wooing the buxom air.

    Cradock Nowell, Vol. 1 (of 3) Richard Doddridge Blackmore
  • Caius walked by its side sometimes, but there was no mermaid there.

    The Mermaid Lily Dougall
  • In these he is borne beyond the world with those poets whom Keats conceived as supping at a celestial "mermaid."

    Hilaire Belloc C. Creighton Mandell
  • "I feel like a mermaid at the bottom of the ocean," exulted Peachy.

British Dictionary definitions for mermaid


an imaginary sea creature fabled to have a woman's head and upper body and a fish's tail
Word Origin
C14: from mere lake, inlet + maid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mermaid

mid-14c., mermayde, literally "maid of the sea," from Middle English mere "sea, lake" (see mere (n.)) + maid. Old English had equivalent merewif "water-witch" (see wife), meremenn "mermaid, siren." Tail-less in northern Europe; the fishy form is a medieval influence from classical sirens. A favorite sign of taverns and inns since at least early 15c. (in reference to the inn on Bread Street, Cheapside, London). Mermaid pie (1660s) was "a sucking pig baked whole in a crust."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mermaid in Culture

mermaid definition

A legendary marine creature with the head and torso of a woman and the tail of a fish; the masculine, less well-known equivalent is a merman. Though linked to the classical Sirens, mermaids may be nothing more than sailors' fanciful reports of the playful antics of dugongs or manatees.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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