VirginA virgin is most commonly seen as a person who has not yet engaged in sexual intercourse. In a stricter sense it is somebody who has not yet engaged in sexual activities (the wider this term is taken, the stricter the definition of virgin). The status of "virginity" (remaining a virgin) is something that is respected and valued in certain segments of society, especially in regards to religious views of retaining one's virginity before marriage.
Among human females, the hymen is a membrane which is part of the vulva which is often physically torn when the women first engages in vaginal intercourse. The presence of an intact membrane is therefore often seen as physical evidence of virginity in the broader technical sense. By contrast, there is no obvious physical indicator of virginity in human males.
Virginity has been often considered to be a virtue denoting purity and physical self-restraint and is an important characteristic of some religious figures such as the Virgin Mary and goddesses such as Athena, Artemis, and Hestia. The Maiden or Virgin is one of the three persons of the Triple Goddess in many Neopagan traditions. The constellation Virgo represents a wide selection of sacred virgins.
References to virginity are often used in a discouraging manner among younger members of society (especially minors and high school students). The common belief among youths that virginity is something to be ridiculed has been a matter of considerable debate, especially related to the controversy involving sexuality among minors.
Some historians and anthropologists note that many societies such as the United States before the sexual revolution which place a high value on virginity before marriage actually have large amount of premarital sexual activity which does not involve penetration, e.g. oral sex and mutual masturbation. This has been termed technical virginity or hot virginity.
The term "virgin" is also used in a similar manner to describe someone or something who has not yet achieved a significant goal of some sort, or something unused, or unspoilt (e.g. Virgin Islands).