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mermaid

[mur-meyd] /ˈmɜrˌmeɪd/
noun
1.
(in folklore) a female marine creature, having the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the tail of a fish.
2.
a highly skilled female swimmer.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English mermayde. See mere2, maid
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for mermaid
  • On the right is a pre-production plastic pellet also known as a mermaid's tear.
  • And the mermaid, or siren, will be freed from her circle.
  • He swam every morning, with a sturdy breaststroke far out to sea, the tattoo of a twin-tailed mermaid glistening on his shoulder.
  • The fish course was preceded by a mermaid-costumed model borne on a platter by two porters.
  • For example, during a mermaid theme, kids can make a mermaid crown and necklace.
British Dictionary definitions for mermaid

mermaid

/ˈmɜːˌmeɪd/
noun
1.
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
n.

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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Encyclopedia Article for mermaid

a fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a human being and the tail of a fish. Similar divine or semidivine beings appear in ancient mythologies (e.g., the Chaldean sea god Ea, or Oannes). In European folklore, mermaids (sometimes called sirens) and mermen were natural beings who, like fairies, had magical and prophetic powers. They loved music and often sang. Though very long-lived, they were mortal and had no souls

Learn more about mermaid with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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