Etymology[ edit ] The word virgin comes via Old French virgine from the root form of Latin virgo , genitive virgin-is, meaning literally "maiden" or " virgin "—a sexually intact young woman  or "sexually inexperienced woman". As in Latin, the English word is also often used with wider reference, by relaxing the age, gender or sexual criteria.
In the latter usage, virgin means uninitiated. The Latin word likely arose by analogy with a suit of lexemes based on vireo, meaning "to be green, fresh or flourishing", mostly with botanic reference—in particular, virga meaning "strip of wood". Most of the OED1 definitions, however, are similar. The German word for "virgin" is Jungfrau. Jungfrau literally means "young woman", but is not used in this sense. Instead "junge Frau" can be used. Jungfrau is the word reserved specifically for sexual inexperience.
As Frau means "woman", it suggests a female referent. It is, however, dated too and rarely used. The English cognate "maid" was often used to imply virginity, especially in poetry - e. Maid Marian , the love interest of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood in English folklore.
German is not the only language to have a specific name for male virginity; in French, male virgins are called " puceau ". Although typically applied to women, like English, it is also applied to men, in both cases specifically denoting absence of sexual experience.
When used of men, it does not carry a strong association of "never-married" status. This distinction is necessary due to there being no specific word for wife or husband in Greek.
By extension from its primary sense, the idea that a virgin has a sexual "blank slate",  unchanged by any past intimate connection or experience,  can imply that the person is of unadulterated purity. Concept[ edit ] The concept of virginity has significance only in a particular social, cultural and moral context.
According to Hanne Blank , "virginity reflects no known biological imperative and grants no demonstrable evolutionary advantage. They argue that no standardized medical definition of virginity exists, there is no scientifically verifiable proof of virginity loss, and sexual intercourse results in no change in personality. The traditional view is that virginity is only lost through vaginal penetration by the penis, consensual or non-consensual, and that acts of oral sex , anal sex , mutual masturbation or other forms of non-penetrative sex do not result in loss of virginity.
A person who engages in such acts without having engaged in vaginal intercourse is often regarded among heterosexuals and researchers as "technically a virgin". Carpenter, many men and women discussed how they felt virginity could not be taken through rape. They described losing their virginities in one of three ways: And if you're a gay woman, then you're supposed to have oral sex, because that's what gay women do. And so those become, like markers, for when virginity is lost.
In a peer-reviewed study by sociologists Peter Bearman and Hannah Brueckner, which looked at virginity pledgers five years after their pledge, they found that the pledgers have similar proportions of sexually transmitted diseases STDs and at least as high proportions of anal and oral sex as those who have not made a virginity pledge, and deduced that there was substitution of oral and anal sex for vaginal sex among the pledgers. However, the data for anal sex without vaginal sex reported by males did not reflect this directly.
Sexual initiation at an earlier age has been associated with: These medical consequences consist of an increase in STDs, cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, fertility and unwanted pregnancies.
Its significance is reflected in expressions such as "saving oneself", "losing one's virginity," "taking someone's virginity" and sometimes as "deflowering. Feminine sexual practices have revolved around the idea of females waiting to have sex until they are married.
In those cultures, female virginity is closely interwoven with personal or even family honor, especially those known as shame societies , in which the loss of virginity before marriage is a matter of deep shame. In the past, within most societies a woman's options for marriage were largely dependent upon her status as a virgin.
Those women who were not virgins experienced a dramatic decrease in opportunities for a socially advantageous marriage, and in some instances the premarital loss of virginity eliminated their chances of marriage entirely. The Bible required a man who seduced or raped a virgin to pay her bride price to her father and marry the girl.
In some languages, the compensation for these damages are called " wreath money ". Virginity test Some cultures require proof of a bride's virginity before her marriage. This has traditionally been tested by the presence of an intact hymen ,  which was verified by either a physical examination usually by a physician, who provided a "certificate of virginity" or by a "proof of blood," which refers to vaginal bleeding that results from the tearing of the hymen after the first sanctioned sexual contact.
It is flexible and can be stretched or torn during first engagement in vaginal intercourse. However, a hymen may also be broken during physical activity. Many women possess such thin, fragile hymens, easily stretched and already perforated at birth, that the hymen can be broken in childhood without the girl even being aware of it, often through athletic activities.
For example, a slip while riding a bicycle may, on occasion, result in the bicycle's saddle-horn entering the introitus just far enough to break the hymen. Some call themselves born-again virgins. There is a common belief that some women are born without a hymen,   but some doubt has been cast on this by a recent study. Some medical procedures occasionally may require a woman's hymen to be opened hymenotomy. Male virginity[ edit ] Historically, and in modern times, female virginity has been regarded as more significant than male virginity; the perception that sexual prowess is fundamental to masculinity has lowered the expectation of male virginity without lowering the social status.
In one study, scholars Wenger and Berger found that male virginity is understood to be real by society, but it has been ignored by sociological studies.