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[lawr-uh-lahy; German loh-ruh-lahy] /ˈlɔr əˌlaɪ; German ˈloʊ rəˌlaɪ/
a quasilegendary nymph of the Rhine who lured sailors to shipwreck on her rock by singing: a creation of Clemens Brentano in a poem of 1800.
a female given name.
Origin of Lorelei
< German, variant of Lurlei, cliff overlooking the Rhine, thought to be the abode of a nymph Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Lorelei
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A girl in the class named Lorelei Ritter laughed at my sentence, and then the rest laughed too.

    Emmy Lou's Road to Grace George Madden Martin
  • Her hair of a Lorelei was demurely coiled and wound about her little head.

    The Thing from the Lake Eleanor M. Ingram
  • The Lorelei is of course a water-spirit of the siren type, one who lures heedless mariners to their destruction.

  • These three were learning to feel the charms of the Lorelei legend as I had felt it.

    Legends of the Rhine Wilhelm Ruland
  • "I haven't got any home now," said Lorelei, smiling at the lady's tone.

    Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag VI Louisa M. Alcott
  • She was intended to beat the 'Lorelei,' but she never could do anything when sailing against her.

    Yachting Vol. 1 Various.
  • It was a phantom, a Lorelei, singing to foolish idle men, luring them to destruction.

  • The 'Lorelei' carried rather a deep bilge, and her keel was well rockered.

    Yachting Vol. 1 Various.
  • The Lorelei was 186 in, and Mrs. Pollock desired to speak with her husband.

British Dictionary definitions for Lorelei


(in German legend) a siren, said to dwell on a rock at the edge of the Rhine south of Koblenz, who lures boatmen to destruction
Word Origin
C19: from German Lurlei name of the rock; from a poem by Clemens Brentano (1778–1842)
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 Lorelei

1843, from German, name of a rock in the River Rhine near Koblenz, Germany. In legend, a lovely woman sat atop it and sang while combing her long blond hair, distracting sailors so their ships foundered on the rock and they drowned. The second element of the name probably is Rhenish dialect lei "cliff, rock;" the first element is perhaps from Middle High German lüren "to lie in wait"

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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