[lawr-uh-lahy; German loh-ruh-lahy]


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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lorelei

Contemporary Examples of lorelei

Historical Examples of lorelei

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

    Legends of the Rhine

    Wilhelm Ruland

  • Well, in the future the siren should chant her Lorelei songs to deaf ears.

    The Wall Between

    Sara Ware Bassett

  • "I've got no parents; and my name is Lorelei," answered the mermaiden.

    Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag VI

    Louisa M. Alcott

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

    Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag VI

    Louisa M. Alcott

  • Her hair of a Lorelei was demurely coiled and wound about her little head.

    The Thing from the Lake

    Eleanor M. Ingram

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 for Lorelei

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

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