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Siren vs. Mermaid — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on October 30, 2023
"Siren" traditionally refers to mythological creatures known for their singing to lure sailors, while "Mermaid" is a half-human, half-fish being from folklore.
Siren vs. Mermaid — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Siren and Mermaid

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Key Differences

"Siren" originates from Greek mythology, where these creatures, often depicted with bird-like features, would sing enchanting songs to lead sailors astray, causing shipwrecks. In contrast, "Mermaids," with their human upper bodies and fish tails, are staples in various cultures' folklores, often linked with beauty and allure.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023
While "Sirens" are primarily known for their mesmerizing voices that spell doom, "Mermaids" have a broader range of stories, from enchanting sea folk to protectors of oceans or even beings who fall in love with humans.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023
Interestingly, the modern depiction of "Sirens" sometimes merges with that of "Mermaids," causing confusion. Traditional "Sirens" had bird elements, whereas "Mermaids" consistently appear as half-fish beings.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023
In literature and art, "Sirens" often symbolize temptation and danger. "Mermaids," however, are more versatile, symbolizing mystery, beauty, freedom, or danger, depending on the story.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023
Many tales caution sailors about the seductive power of "Sirens," advising them to resist their enchanting melodies. Meanwhile, "Mermaids" appear in a variety of narratives, from tragic love stories to tales of them rescuing or befriending humans.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Origin

Greek mythology
Various global folklores
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Oct 30, 2023

Typical Depiction

Often with bird-like features
Half-human, half-fish
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Oct 30, 2023

Primary Attribute

Enchanting song causing shipwrecks
Beauty and allure
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Oct 30, 2023

Common Associations

Temptation and danger
Mystery, beauty, freedom, or danger
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Oct 30, 2023

Modern Interpretation

Sometimes conflated with mermaids
Often seen as benign, but some stories depict them as dangerous
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Oct 30, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Siren

Often depicted with bird-like features.
Ancient pottery showed Sirens with wings and talons.
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Oct 30, 2023

Mermaid

Featured in various global myths and legends.
Mermaids are celebrated in festivals around coastal towns.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Siren

A symbol of temptation and danger.
Like a Siren's call, the treasure tempted many adventurers.
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Oct 30, 2023

Mermaid

A mythical being with a human upper body and a fish tail.
Children stared in awe at the Mermaid statue.
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Oct 30, 2023

Siren

A device producing loud sounds for warnings.
The tornado siren echoed throughout the town.
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Oct 30, 2023

Mermaid

Often linked to tales of oceanic allure and beauty.
The sailor spoke of a beautiful Mermaid he saw during his voyage.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Siren

Sometimes conflated with mermaids in modern times.
In the movie, the Siren looked more like a traditional mermaid.
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Oct 30, 2023

Mermaid

Sometimes depicted as protectors of the sea.
The local legend spoke of a Mermaid who saved sailors from storms.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Siren

Greek Mythology One of a group of sea nymphs who by their sweet singing lured mariners to destruction on the rocks surrounding their island.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

Subject of numerous artistic and literary works.
The painting captured a Mermaid's ethereal beauty against a moonlit sea.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Siren

Siren A woman regarded as irresistibly alluring.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A device in which compressed air or steam is driven against a rotating perforated disk to create a loud, often wailing sound as a signal or warning.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

A legendary sea creature having the head and upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An electronic device producing a similar sound as a signal or warning
A police car siren.
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Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

A mythological Category:en:Mythological_creatures creature with a woman's head and upper body, and a tail of a fish.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Any of several slender aquatic salamanders of the family Sirenidae of eastern North America, having external gills, small forelimbs, and no hind limbs.
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Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

Coloured a brilliant turquoise.
Mermaid smoothie
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

(Greek mythology) One of a group of nymphs who lured mariners to their death on the rocks.
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Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

(obsolete) A prostitute.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

One who sings sweetly and charms.
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Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

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.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A dangerously seductive woman.
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Mar 28, 2019

Mermaid

Half woman and half fish; lives in the sea
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

(biology) A member of an order of mammals of Sirenia.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

(biology) A member of a genus of aquatic salamanders of the family Sirenidae, commonly used for all species subsumed under the family of Sirenidae.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

(entomology) Any of various nymphalid butterflies of the genus Hestina.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A device, either mechanical or electronic, that makes a piercingly loud sound as an alarm or signal, or the sound from such a device (first recorded 1879).
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

(music) A musical instrument, one of the few aerophones in the percussion section of the symphony orchestra (patented as Acme Siren in 1895).
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An instrument for demonstrating the laws of beats and combination tones.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An astrophysical event that can be used for calculating cosmic distances.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

To make a noise with, or as if with, a siren.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Relating to or like a siren.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

One of three sea nymphs, - or, according to some writers, of two, - said to frequent an island near the coast of Italy, and to sing with such sweetness that they lured mariners to destruction.
Next where the sirens dwell you plow the seas;Their song is death, and makes destruction please.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An enticing, dangerous woman.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Something which is insidious or deceptive.
Consumption is a siren.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A mermaid.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Any long, slender amphibian of the genus Siren or family Sirenidæ, destitute of hind legs and pelvis, and having permanent external gills as well as lungs. They inhabit the swamps, lagoons, and ditches of the Southern United States. The more common species (Siren lacertina) is dull lead-gray in color, and becames two feet long.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An instrument for producing musical tones and for ascertaining the number of sound waves or vibrations per second which produce a note of a given pitch. The sounds are produced by a perforated rotating disk or disks. A form with two disks operated by steam or highly compressed air is used sounding an alarm to vessels in fog.
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Of or pertaining to a siren; bewitching, like a siren; fascinating; alluring; as, a siren song.
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A sea nymph (part woman and part bird) supposed to lure sailors to destruction on the rocks where the nymphs lived;
Odysseus ordered his crew to plug their ears so they would not hear the Siren's fatal song
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A woman who is considered to be dangerously seductive
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Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A warning signal that is a loud wailing sound
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

An acoustic device producing a loud often wailing sound as a signal or warning
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

Eel-like aquatic North American salamander with small forelimbs and no hind limbs; have permanent external gills
Fiza Rafique
Mar 28, 2019

Siren

A creature from Greek mythology with a captivating song.
The sailors couldn't resist the Siren's enchanting melody.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Common Curiosities

Are there male "Mermaids"?

Yes, they're typically called "Mermen."
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Were "Sirens" always associated with the sea?

Originally, they weren't strictly sea creatures; the association came over time.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Are "Sirens" always female?

In most myths, yes, Sirens are depicted as female.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Where did the "Siren" myth originate?

Sirens have their roots in ancient Greek mythology.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Are "Sirens" and "Mermaids" considered deities?

They're mythological creatures, but not typically revered as gods.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Do "Mermaids" have any supernatural powers?

Folklore varies, but some attribute magic or prophetic abilities to Mermaids.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Do "Mermaids" sing like "Sirens"?

Some tales attribute singing to Mermaids, but it's Sirens who are specifically known for their enchanting songs.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Can "Mermaids" live on land?

In many stories, they can be on land temporarily but must return to the water.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Do "Sirens" have a specific song?

Myth doesn't specify a particular song, just that it's irresistibly enchanting.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Are there positive depictions of "Sirens"?

While mostly portrayed as dangerous, some modern interpretations show them more neutrally or sympathetically.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Why do some modern stories mix "Sirens" and "Mermaids"?

Over time, distinctions blurred, especially as sea-based tales of both became popular.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

Are "Mermaids" always friendly in myths?

Depictions vary; they can be friendly, indifferent, or even dangerous.
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Oct 30, 2023

How have "Siren" and "Mermaid" myths influenced modern culture?

They've inspired movies, books, songs, and even fashion.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

What's a popular work featuring "Mermaids"?

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" is a famous story.
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Oct 30, 2023

Are there "Mermaid" sightings in modern times?

There are occasional claims, but no verifiable evidence.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 30, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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