A mermaid is a creature whose top part is human and bottom part is fish (or dolphin, or whale, or whatever the hell you want). Many stories and movies have been told about mermaids, one of my favorites being The Little Mermaid.
There are&other creatures whose top half is a fish, and the bottom half is human, but they are unsurprisingly less popular than Mermaids.

Mermaids can breathe underwater, but this seems biologically dubious given that they don't show any sign of gills; the half of their body where breathing organs are normally found is the half that's humanlike, not fishlike.

It's also unclear whether they bear live young or lay eggs. Their sex organs are apparently in the fishlike half of their body, which encourages theories of egg-laying reproduction, but they also have well-developed mammaries.

Reproduction, however, presumably requires their species to have male members, but the literature has a curious scarcity of references to mermen in contrast to the more numerous females. Perhaps only the mermaids come regularly to the surface, while the men stay at home underwater as house-husbands of their more active mermaid wives.

I dated a woman once who really liked these....

The seductive mermaid of lore has (inevitably) given its name to a cocktail especially suited to the world of beach, dock, patio, and surf. The beverage does not mix well, however, with the operation of a motorized vehicle, on land or in the water.

The mythic mermaid is equal parts woman and fish; her liquid equivalent contains equal portions of:

blue curaçao
vodka
orange juice and/or pineapple juice
grapefruit juice

and a twist of lemon or lime.

If you offer the Mermaid as a punch, you will naturally want to blend well. If you offer it in a glass to a friend, you may want to let the recipient stir, as the ingredients layer for an appealing visual effect.

Mer"maid (?), n. [AS. mere lake, sea. See Mere lake, and maid.]

A fabled marine creature, typically represented as having the upper part like that of a woman, and the lower like a fish; a sea nymph, sea woman, or woman fish.

⇒ Chaucer uses this word as equivalent to the siren of the ancients.

Mermaid fish Zool. the angel fish (Squatina). -- Mermaid's glove Zool., a British branched sponge somewhat resembling a glove. -- Mermaid's head Zool., a European spatangoid sea urchin (Echinocardium cordatum) having some resemblance to a skull. -- Mermaid weed Bot., an aquatic herb with dentate or pectinate leaves (Proserpinaca palustris and P. pectinacea).

 

© Webster 1913.

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