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John W. Waterhouse, A Mermaid, 1900


From Middle English mermayde (maid of the sea), from mere (sea, lake) +‎ maid, equivalent to mer- +‎ maid. Cognate with Dutch meermeid (mermaid), Middle High German mermaget, mermeit (mermaid, > German Meermagd, Meermädchen (mermaid)). Compare Old English meremenn, meremennen, meremenin (mermaid, siren).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɜːˌmeɪd/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɝ.meɪd/
    • (file)


mermaid (plural mermaids)

  1. A mythological creature with a woman's head and upper body, and a tail of a fish.
    Synonyms: mergirl, merlady, mermaiden, merwoman
    Hypernym: merperson
    Hyponyms: mermother, merqueen
    Holonym: merfolk
    Coordinate terms: melusine, nixie, siren
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 2, section 2, member 3, page 210:
      Search the depth, & ſee that variety of Sea monſters & fiſhes, Mare-maids, Sea men, Horſes, &c. which it affords.
    • 1828, Thomas Keightley, The Fairy Mythology, volume I, London: William Harrison Ainsworth, page 242:
      People that are drowned, and whose bodies are not founds are believed to have been taken into the dwellings of the Mermaids.
  2. (as a modifier) Coloured a brilliant turquoise.
    mermaid smoothie
  3. (obsolete) A prostitute.
    Synonyms: hooker, lady of the night; see also Thesaurus:prostitute

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