What’s the gender-neutral word for an individual mermaid (Ariel) or merman (Triton) of unknown gender?
- Hiberno-English merrow?
- Germanic nixie (Melusine)?
German: die Nixe (f.) and – rarely – der Nix/Neck/Nöck (m.), e.g. in Grimm’s “The Nixie of the Mill-Pond” and “The Water Nixie”.
- Descriptive fish-tailed person, person with fluke or human-dolphin chimæra?
Most illustrations don’t use vertical tailfins but horizontal flukes as found in dolphins and whales, but often greenish scales, sometimes gills and no blow-holes.
- Mermaid as a gender-neutral term, distinguished as either merman or *merwoman (or *merboy and *mergirl)?
- Singular use of the plural words merpeople and merfolk?
This group of fictional beings is of course inherently sexist, with female mermaids usually being described as beautiful nymphs or sirens and less popular male mermen frequently being depicted as strong but ugly green-haired homo aquensis. Also, maid is archaic and not commonly seen as a neutral lexemic antonym of man.
Unicode is adding a respective generic 🧜 emoji to version 10 of its standard at code point U+1F9DC. Its official name – which can be changed only until mid-2017 – currently is merperson.