late 14c., deflouren, "deprive (a maiden) of her virginity," also "excerpt the best parts of (a book)," from Old French desflorer (13c., Modern French déflorer) "to deflower (a garden); to take the virginity of" and directly from Late Latin deflorare, from de- (see de-) + flos "flower" (from PIE root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom"). Sense of "despoil of beauty or grace" is from late 15c. The notion is "to strip of flowers," or of the quality or character of a flower, thus "to ravish."
The French Indians are said not to have deflowered any of our young women they captivated. [James Adair, "The Life of an Indian Trader," London, 1775]
name of the temple of Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis in Athens, from Greek Parthenōn, literally "temple of the virgin goddess" (Athene), also, in a general sense, "the young women's apartments in a house," from parthenos "virgin, maiden, girl," a word of unknown origin. Beekes finds "acceptable" its derivation from IE *psteno- "breast" on the notion of "having protruding breasts." The temple was completed about 438 B.C.E., later served as a church and then a mosque under the Turks, and was shattered by an explosion of gunpowder stored there in 1687 during the Venetian siege.
early 13c., damisele, "young, unmarried woman," especially a maiden of gentle birth, also "maid in waiting, handmaiden assisting a lady," from Anglo-French damaisele and Old French dameisele "woman of noble birth" (Modern French demoiselle "young lady"), modified (by association with dame) from earlier donsele, from Gallo-Roman *domnicella, diminutive of Latin domina "lady" (see dame). Archaic until revived by romantic poets, along with 16c.-17c. variant form damozel (which was used by Spenser). Damsel-fly for "dragon-fly" is by 1815, from a sense in French demoiselle.
1896, from Japanese, popular theater (as opposed to shadow puppet-plays or lyrical Noh dramas).
Kabuki comes from the verb 'kabuku', meaning 'to deviate from the normal manners and customs, to do something absurd.' Today kabuki is performed only by men, but the first kabuki performance was given in about 1603 by a girl, a shrine maiden of Kyoto named O-kuni, who 'deviated from the normal customs' by dressing as a man and entertaining the public with satirical dances in the grounds of the Kitano shrine. [Toshie M. Evans, "A Dictionary of Japanese Loanwords," 1997]
Alternative etymology [Barnhart, OED] is that it means literally "art of song and dance," from ka "song" + bu "dance" + ki "art, skill."
late 14c., nimphe, "one of a class of semi-divine female beings in classical mythology," imagined as beautiful maidens, eternally young, from Old French nimphe (13c.) and directly from Latin nympha "nymph, demi-goddess; bride, mistress, young woman," from Greek nymphē "bride, young wife," later "beautiful young woman," then "semi-divine being in the form of a beautiful maiden;" usually said to be related to Latin nubere "to marry, wed" (see nuptial), but Beekes suggests a Pre-Greek origin.
Sub-groups include dryads, hamadryads, naiads, nereids, and oreads. The sense in English of "young and attractive woman" is attested from 1580s. Meaning "insect stage between larva and adult" is recorded from 1570s. Related: Nymphal; nymphean.
Old English swan "swan," from Proto-Germanic *swanaz "singer" (source also of Old Saxon swan, Old Norse svanr, Danish svane, Swedish svan, Middle Dutch swane, Dutch zwaan, Old High German swan, German Schwan), probably literally "the singing bird" (from PIE root *swen- "to make sound"). If so, it is related to Old English geswin "melody, song" and swinsian "to make melody."
In classical mythology, sacred to Apollo and to Venus. The singing of swans before death was alluded to by Chaucer (late 14c.), but swan-song (1831) is a translation of German Schwanengesang. The ancient Indo-European mythical swan-maiden so called by mythographers from 1829. Swan dive is recorded from 1898.
"rustic woodland spirit or demigod part human, part goat," late 14c., from Latin Faunus, the name of a god of the countryside, worshipped especially by farmers and shepherds, equivalent of Greek Pan. The faunalia were held in his honor. Formerly somewhat assimilated to satyrs, but they have diverged again lately.
The faun is now regarded rather as the type of unsophisticated & the satyr of unpurified man; the first is man still in intimate communion with Nature, the second is man still swayed by bestial passions. [Fowler]
The plural is fauni. The word is of uncertain origin. De Vaan suggests Proto-Italic *fawe/ono-, from a PIE word meaning "favorable," with cognates in Old Irish buan "good, favorable; firm," Middle Wensh bun "maiden, sweetheart."
late 13c., wenche "girl, young woman," especially if unmarried, also "female infant," shortened from wenchel "child," also in Middle English "girl, maiden," from Old English wencel, probably related to wancol "unsteady, fickle, weak," from Proto-Germanic *wankila- (source also of Old Norse vakr "child, weak person," Old High German wanchal "fickle"), from PIE *weng- "to bend, curve" (see wink (v.)).
The wenche is nat dead, but slepith. [Wyclif, Matthew ix.24, c. 1380]
In Middle English occasionally with disparaging suggestion, and secondary sense of "concubine, strumpet" is attested by mid-14c. Also "serving-maid, bondwoman, young woman of a humble class" (late 14c.), a sense retained in the 19c. U.S. South in reference to slave women of any age. In Shakespeare's day a female flax-worker could be a flax-wench, flax-wife, or flax-woman.
mid-14c., "female spinner of thread," from Middle English spinnen "spin fibers into thread" (see spin (v.)) + -stere, feminine suffix (see -ster). Unmarried women were supposed to occupy themselves with spinning, hence the word came to be "the legal designation in England of all unmarried women from a viscount's daughter downward" [Century Dictionary] in documents from 1600s to early 1900s, and by 1719 the word was being used generically for "woman still unmarried and beyond the usual age for it."
Spinster, a terme, or an addition in our Common Law, onely added in Obligations, Euidences, and Writings, vnto maids vnmarried. [John Minsheu, "Ductor in Linguas," 1617]
Strictly in reference to those who spin, spinster also was used of both sexes (compare webster, Baxter, brewster) and so a double-feminine form emerged, spinstress "a female spinner" (1640s), which by 1716 also was being used for "a maiden lady." Related: Spinsterhood.