Mermaid, a mythical being represented as having the body of a woman and the tail of a fish, and living in the sea. The typical mermaiden was beautiful ; like the Lorelei, she was generally occupied in combing her long hair, and in her left hand she carried a mirror. /These creatures figure largely in folk-lore, and were supposed to be capable of feeling or feigning affection for, and forming connections with, men, sometimes on shore, sometimes in caves in the depths of the sea. Similar stories are told of mermen and their relations to women. In most cases these connections ended badly for the human partner. The origin of the myth seems to lie in the worship of nature-forces, and it was just as natural to imagine a water-spirit with the tail of a fish as a satyr or faun with the hind-legs of a goat. Cuvier thought that the ancients took their notions of mermaids from the manatees and dugongs. It would probably be more correct to say that the observation of these animals by moderns strengthened the old superstition, and was no more the cause of it than any of the fabrications of monkey and fish-skin formerly exhibited as mermaids at village fairs.