1610s, from French hymen (16c.), from medical Latin, ultimately from Greek hymen "membrane (especially 'virginal membrane,' as the membrane par excellence); thin skin," from PIE *syu-men-, from root *syu- "to bind, sew." Specific modern medical meaning begins with Vesalius in the 1555 edition of "De humani corporis fabrica." Apparently not directly connected to Hymen, the god of marriage, but sharing the same root and in folk etymology supposed to be related. Related: Hymenial.
1580s, Greek god of marriage, represented as a youth carrying a torch and a veil, perhaps etymologically "the joiner," literally "the one who sews" (two together); see hymen. Related: Hymeniac.
updated on May 10, 2017