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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
First recorded in 1300-50, mermaid is from the Middle English word mermayde. See mere2, maid Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mermaid
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is quite fitting that the scene should be set in the "mermaid."

    Browning's England Helen Archibald Clarke
  • Urquhart called her Undine, and she was mostly known as the mermaid.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • However that may be, certain it is that this is a red-letter night at the mermaid.

  • For Jim was not incapable of casting stones at even so rare a curiosity as a mermaid.

    The Mermaid

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

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall
  • It wasn't becoming to play a mermaid, but I didn't think of that then.

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall
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 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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