Etymology
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mermaid (n.)

"fabled marine or amphibian creature having the upper body in the form of a woman and the lower in the form of a fish, with human attributes," "usually working harm, with or without malignant intent, to mortals with whom she might be thrown into relation" [Century Dictionary]; mid-14c., meremayde, literally "maid of the sea," from Middle English mere "sea, lake" (see mere (n.1)) + maid.

Old English had equivalent merewif "water-witch" (see wife), meremenn "mermaid, siren" (compare Middle Dutch meer-minne, Old High German meri-min), which became Middle English mere-min (c. 1200) and was shortened to mere "siren, mermaid" (early 13c.); the later mermaid might be a re-expansion of this. Tail-less in northern Europe; the fishy form is a medieval influence from the classical siren, and mermaids sometimes were said to lure sailors to destruction with song.

A favorite sign of taverns and inns at least since early 15c. (in reference to the inn on Bread Street, Cheapside, London). Mermaid pie (1660s) was "a sucking pig baked whole in a crust." Mermaid's purse for "egg-case of a skate, ray, or shark" is by 1825, perhaps originally Scottish, as it is first attested in Jamieson.

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maidenly (adj.)

"like a maid, becoming to a maid; gentle, modest, reserved," mid-15c., from maiden (n.) + -ly (1).

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maiden (n.)

Old English mægden, mæden "unmarried woman (usually young); virgin; girl; maidservant," diminutive of mægð, mægeð "virgin, girl; woman, wife," from Proto-Germanic *magadin- "young womanhood, sexually inexperienced female" (source also of Old Saxon magath, Old Frisian maged, Old High German magad "virgin, maid," German Magd "maid, maidservant," German Mädchen "girl, maid," from Mägdchen "little maid"), fem. variant of PIE root *maghu- "youngster of either sex, unmarried person" (source also of Old English magu "child, son, male descendant," Avestan magava- "unmarried," Old Irish maug "slave").

Also in Middle English "a man lacking or abstaining from sexual experience" (c. 1200). As the name of a guillotine-like instrument of execution by beheading, from 1580s.

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maidenhead (n.)

"virginity (of a woman), condition of a maiden," c. 1200, from maiden (n.) + Middle English -hede (see -head). Compare Middle English maidehede "celibacy, virginity" (of men or women), literally "maid-hood," from Old English mæðhad.

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*maghu- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "young person" of either sex. It forms all or part of: maiden. It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Avestan magava- "unmarried;" Old English magu "child, son, male descendant," Old English mægden, mæden "maiden, virgin, girl; maid, servant;" German Magd "maid, maidservant," Mädchen "girl, maid;" Old Irish maug "slave."
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pucelle (n.)

"maid, virgin, young woman," mid-15c., especially in historical reference to Joan of Arc, the "Maid of Orleans" (called in Old French la pucelle from c. 1423), according to French sources from Vulgar Latin *pulicella "maid" (source also of Italian pulcella), diminutive of Latin pulla, fem. of pullus "young animal," especially a chicken (see foal (n.)), but there are difficulties with this derivation. Also, in 16c.-17c. English, "a drab, a slut; a wanton girl, a harlot."

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Abigail 
fem. proper name, from Hebrew Abhigayil, literally "my father is rejoicing," from abh "father" + gil "to rejoice." In the Old Testament Abigail the Carmelitess was a wife of David. Used in general sense of "lady's maid" (1660s) from character of that name in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady." Her traditional male counterpart was Andrew. The waiting maid association perhaps begins with I Samuel xxv, where David's wife often calls herself a "handmaid."
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Nan 
fem. proper name, usually a familiar form of Ann before the 20c. rise in popularity of Nancy. From c. 1700 as a characteristic name for a serving maid. As short for nanny, etc., from 1940.
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Hildegard 
Germanic fem. proper name, Old High German Hildegard, literally "protecting battle-maid;" for first element see Hilda; for second element see yard (n.1).
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tern (n.)
gull-like shore bird (subfamily Sterninae), 1670s, via East Anglian dialect, from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish terne, Swedish tärna, Færoese terna) related to Old Norse þerna "tern" (also "maid-servant"), cognate with Old English stearn.
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