The sound-producing device called a siren was invented by the French physicist Charles Cagniard de la Tour (1777-1859) in 1819. His invention determined the frequency, or number of vibrations per second, corresponding to a sound of any pitch. Sirens are now used only as signals. In Greek mythology, Sirens (from sirenes, meaning "entanglers") lived on an island off southern Italy. They were mythical monsters, half woman and half bird, who, by their sweet singing, lured mariners to destruction on the rocks surrounding their island. And if they were not shipwrecked, the sweetness of the singing was such that the listeners forgot everything and died of hunger.
   Two experiences reported by the poets proved the ingenuity of man over the beguiling nymphs. In the first, Odysseus, returning from the Trojan War, skirted the island, stuffed wax into the ears of his sailors, and lashed himself to a mast. With the crew thus secured, the vessel sailed on until Odysseus could no longer hear the singing of the Sirens. In the second tale, the Argonauts, heroic sailors of the Argo (the ship Jason had built to help him fetch the Golden Fleece), sailed the ship dangerously near the beach on which the Sirens were singing. Aboard was the celebrated poet Orpheus, whose golden lyre enchanted everyone who heard his music. He played his lyre, thus preventing the crew from hearing the Sirens's deadly songs. The Argonauts sailed safely by the Sirens's habitat. Defeated, the nymphs threw themselves into the sea and became rocks.
   A siren suit is a one-piece, lined, warm garment on the lines of a boiler suit, and was sometimes worn in London during the air raids of World War II. It was much favored by Winston Churchill and so named from its being slipped on over night clothes at the first wail of the siren.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Siren — Студийный альбом …   Википедия

  • Siren — Pour les articles homonymes, voir SIREN …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sirén — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Johan Sigfrid Sirén, (1889–1961) finnischer Architekt Kaija Sirén (1920–2001), finnische Architektin Heikki Sirén (* 1918), finnischer Architekt Niki Sirén (* 1976), schweizerisch finnischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Siren — Si ren, n. [L., fr. Gr. ???: cf. F. sir[ e]ne.] 1. (Class. Myth.) 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Siren — Si ren, a. Of or pertaining to a siren; bewitching, like a siren; fascinating; alluring; as, a siren song. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Siren — Siren, WI U.S. village in Wisconsin Population (2000): 988 Housing Units (2000): 499 Land area (2000): 1.103843 sq. miles (2.858940 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.022314 sq. miles (0.057793 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.126157 sq. miles (2.916733 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Siren, WI — U.S. village in Wisconsin Population (2000): 988 Housing Units (2000): 499 Land area (2000): 1.103843 sq. miles (2.858940 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.022314 sq. miles (0.057793 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.126157 sq. miles (2.916733 sq. km) FIPS …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • siren — sìren m <G siréna> DEFINICIJA zool. repati vodozemac (Siren lacertina) podrijetlom iz Sjeverne Amerike; dvonogi s. ETIMOLOGIJA nlat. siren, v. sirena …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Sirén — Sirén,   1) Heikki, finnischer Architekt, * Helsinki 5. 10. 1918; eröffnete 1948 mit seiner Frau Kaija (* 1920) ein Architekturbüro in Helsinki; beide zählen zu den finnischen Vertretern des Funktionalismus. Sie errichteten u. a. Wohnhäuser in… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • siren — mid 14c., sea nymph who by her singing lures sailors to their destruction, from O.Fr. sereine, from L.L. Sirena, from L. Siren, from Gk. Seiren [ Odyssey, xii.39 ff.], perhaps lit. binder, from seira cord, rope. Meaning device that makes a… …   Etymology dictionary

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