c. 1200, "unmarried or chaste woman noted for religious piety and having a position of reverence in the Church," from Anglo-French and Old French virgine "virgin; Virgin Mary," from Latin virginem (nominative virgo) "maiden, unwedded girl or woman," also an adjective, "fresh, unused," probably related to virga "young shoot," via a notion of "young" (compare Greek talis "a marriageable girl," cognate with Latin talea "rod, stick, bar").
Meaning "young woman in a state of inviolate chastity" is recorded from c. 1300. Also applied since early 14c. to a chaste man. Meaning "naive or inexperienced person" is attested from 1953. The adjective is recorded from 1550s in the literal sense; figurative sense of "pure, untainted" is attested from c. 1300. The Virgin Islands were named (in Spanish) by Columbus for St. Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgin companions.
updated on March 05, 2020