- Classical Mythology. one of several sea nymphs, part woman and part bird, who lure mariners to destruction by their seductive singing.
- a seductively beautiful or charming woman, especially one who beguiles men: a siren of the silver screen.
- an acoustical instrument for producing musical tones, consisting essentially of a disk pierced with holes arranged equidistantly in a circle, rotated over a jet or stream of compressed air, steam, or the like, so that the stream is alternately interrupted and allowed to pass.
- an implement of this kind used as a whistle, fog signal, or warning device.
- any of several aquatic, eellike salamanders of the family Sirenidae, having permanent external gills, small forelimbs, and no posterior limbs.
- of or like a siren.
- seductive or tempting, especially dangerously or harmfully: the siren call of adventure.
- to go with the siren sounding, as a fire engine.
- to allure in the manner of a siren.
Origin of siren
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sirens
At the time, sirens were not yet standard in tornado country.Heed the Warnings: Why We’re on the Brink of Mass Extinction
Sean B. Carroll
November 30, 2014
Still more keys engage an array of other sounds, from snare drums and cymbals to awooga horns and sirens.How to Save Silent Movies: Inside New Jersey’s Cinema Paradiso
October 2, 2014
Then the first sirens of that long day sounded in the distance.
The FDR Drive was closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles, and we drove down it with lights and sirens flashing.
As shadows fall and flesh goads, we all but hear the frenzied rutting amid the sirens.How Horst Captured Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, and Vivien Leigh—and Changed Fashion Photography
September 8, 2014
Even the Sirens, like all the rest of the world, have been laid under his spells.Cratylus
Had the Sirens only to utter this one incantation, and was every listener constrained to stay?The Memorabilia
Sirens: sea-nymphs who enticed sailors into their power by their singing, and then devoured them.Tom Brown at Rugby
It is execrable stuff—the milk of sirens mingled with sea-water.
Such were the sirens who would have compassed the destruction of Odysseus.A Book of Myths
- a device for emitting a loud wailing sound, esp as a warning or signal, typically consisting of a rotating perforated metal drum through which air or steam is passed under pressure
- (sometimes capital) Greek myth one of several sea nymphs whose seductive singing was believed to lure sailors to destruction on the rocks the nymphs inhabited
- a woman considered to be dangerously alluring or seductive
- (as modifier)her siren charms
- any aquatic eel-like salamander of the North American family Sirenidae, having external gills, no hind limbs, and reduced forelimbs
Word Origin and History for sirens
mid-14c., "sea nymph who by her singing lures sailors to their destruction," from Old French sereine (12c., Modern French sirène) and directly from Latin Siren (Late Latin Sirena), from Greek Seiren ["Odyssey," xii.39 ff.], one of the Seirenes, mythical sisters who enticed sailors to their deaths with their songs, also in Greek "a deceitful woman," perhaps literally "binder, entangler," from seira "cord, rope."
Meaning "device that makes a warning sound" (on an ambulance, etc.) first recorded 1879, in reference to steamboats, perhaps from similar use of the French word. Figurative sense of "one who sings sweetly and charms" is recorded from 1580s. The classical descriptions of them were mangled in medieval translations and glosses, resulting in odd notions of what they looked like.