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[hahy-muh n]
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noun Anatomy.
  1. a fold of mucous membrane partly closing the external orifice of the vagina in a virgin.

Origin of hymen

1605–15; < Late Latin hymēn < Greek hymḗn skin, membrane, the virginal membrane


[hahy-muh n]
  1. the ancient Greek god of marriage.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hymen

Historical Examples

  • I shall toe the scratch if you arrange that I lead the American to the altar of Hymen.

    The Island Mystery

    George A. Birmingham

  • Mars does not borrow the torch of Hymen to light the little aberrations of Venus!

  • So has ended the first stage, in the benign presence of Hymen.

    Benjamin Franklin

    John Torrey Morse, Jr.

  • It begins to burn, and will soon shine bright on the shrine of Hymen.'

    The Last Days of Pompeii

    Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

  • But if she should consent to become his without the blessing of Hymen?

British Dictionary definitions for hymen


  1. anatomy a fold of mucous membrane that partly covers the entrance to the vagina and is usually ruptured when sexual intercourse takes place for the first time
Derived Formshymenal, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Greek: membrane


  1. the Greek and Roman god of marriage
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hymen


1610s, from French hymen (16c.), from medical Latin, ultimately from Greek hymen "membrane (especially 'virginal membrane,' the membrane par excellence); thin skin," from PIE *syu-men-, from root *syu- "to bind, sew" (see sew). Originally any membrane; present specific 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 supposed to be related in folk etymology.


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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hymen in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. A membranous fold of tissue that partly or completely occludes the external vaginal orifice.
Related formshymen•al adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

hymen in Science


  1. A mucous membrane that partly closes the opening of the vagina.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

hymen in Culture



The Greek god of the wedding feast.



A thin fold of mucous membrane that covers all or part of the entrance to the vagina.


An apparently intact hymen is valued in some cultures as proof of virginity in a bride; this “proof,” however, is not accurate. The hymen may appear incomplete in a virgin, and it may appear intact in a woman who has engaged in sexual intercourse.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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