Difference Between Mermaid and Siren

Mermaid vs Siren

Mermaids and sirens are imaginary creatures that have the upper body and faces like women with lower bodies of birds or fish. Mermaids commonly find mention in the folklore of most civilizations and cultures as beautiful aquatic creatures that are half woman and half fish. However, there are many different names given to such creatures like sirens, nixies, undines, water nymphs, mermaids, and so on that are enough to confuse people. People remain especially confused between mermaid and siren because of their similarities. This article attempts to take a closer look at mermaid and siren, two of the odd looking mythological and fantasy characters, to come up with the differences between them.


Water in all cultures is believed to be full of life. Across all cultures, myth and folklore mention aquatic creatures that are half woman and half fish. These gentle creatures have always been depicted as beautiful, gentle, and helping sailors and others travelling through the seas. Despite the fact that these creatures do not exist and are only found in folklore, books, and movies, they remain as charming and enduring as ever, and we find artifacts and depictions in all cultures across the world. The first of the mermaids is believed to be Atargatis who jumped into the sea, to transform herself into a mermaid for accidentally causing the death of her lover. In most stories, these creatures are shown as innocent and benevolent beings helping humans in one way or the other. In fact, in some of the stories, a mermaid is shown falling in love with a human being.

Human beings have been reporting sightings of creatures like mermaids since time immemorial. There has been no concrete proof of their existence, but they remain a part of our art and culture in the form of cartoons, books, movies, gift items and other items used for decoration.


Sirens are mythological characters or creatures found in Greek mythology. They were pointed out as nymphs who lived on islands surrounded by cliffs and enchanted approaching sailors by their voice and music. It is the appearance of the sirens that has been confusing as in some stories they are depicted as birds with human heads while in others they are depicted as half woman and half fish, to make them look like mermaids. There is also confusion because of the fact that, in some languages like French, the word for mermaids is actually siren. However, in most of the stories, sirens have been shown singing songs to attract sailors. Sailors became lured and lost their sense of direction thereby causing shipwreck, and drowned in the seas.

What is the difference between Mermaid and Siren?

• Mermaids are aquatic creatures while sirens are not.

• Mermaids find mention in the folklore and stories of all cultures and civilizations while sirens are found in Greek mythology only.

• Mermaids are shown as gentle and benevolent, whereas sirens are believed to have evil intentions.

• Mermaids are half woman and half fish whereas sirens are believed to be birds with head of the woman.

• Sirens sing songs to mesmerize sailors and cause their drowning. They are also shown as man eaters in some stories. On the other hand, mermaids are always depicted as gentle and benevolent, and ready to help human beings. In some stories, they even fall in love with human beings.

  • emma

    The difference between a mermaid and a siren is that sirens, Thelxiepia, Peisino, Ligea and Aglaope, were cursed by the goddess Demeter after they left her daughter, Persephone, and she (Persephone) was taken by Hades and so the 4 girls became cannibalistic, bird, fish, women, luring sailors to there death. They were born Mortals and became Immortal due to the curse, even though their father was the river god Archelous and their mothers were the Immortal uses.

    I am not as familiar with the mermaid folk lore, but I do know that they are more benevolent than malevolent, but they accidentally lure sailors, due to their beautiful voices. Plus they are simpler in anatomy and origin as they were born mermaids and they are only fish and human.