Sorry, no definitions found. Check out and contribute to the discussion of this word!


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word sworn virgin.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "In the rigidly patriarchal society of the remote mountain villages of northern Albania and beyond, they have a unique way of providing a head of the household when there is no male heir, or the men of the family have died in battle. A girl - or her parents - may declare that she has become a 'male'. From then on, she - now he - will be brought up and dressed as a boy/man, perform male tasks and mix socially as a male with boys. He will become the head of the family, organise the division of labour and wealth, be permitted to carry a weapon and uphold the family honour in blood feuds.

    It has always been assumed in this region that every unmarried female is a virgin but, with a change of gender, the sworn virgin swears to celibacy for life (traditionally an oath to this effect was taken in front of a dozen village elders - all men, of course). He may never revert to the gender of his birth. In this way, inheritance of the family home and land is assured in a society in which women may not inherit property."

    - 'The Men Of The House', Antonia Young in The Guardian, 31 March 2007.

    The original term in Albanian appears to be virgjineshe.

    March 26, 2008

  • Fascinating. Thanks, bilby.

    March 26, 2008

  • Isn't this also quite common in America?

    March 26, 2008

  • "In this way, inheritance of the family home and land is assured in a society in which women ..."

    Uh... how can the inheritance of the family home and land be "assured" if the woman must be celibate for life and presumably will not give birth to an heir? It's assured for whom?

    March 27, 2008

  • It's virgin on the ridiculous.

    March 27, 2008

  • During my senior year at catholic boarding school outside Dublin, one of the over-18 pictures that was a titillation for several months in the local cinema rejoiced in the lubricious title "Virgin on the Verge". I believe it had Swedish actresses, making it an immediate candidate for particular scrutiny by church and government censors.

    I never did get to see it (I was only 16 at the time), but three weeks after graduation I was in Berlin, watching "Last Tango in Paris", which pretty much frazzled my catholic synapses for the rest of the summer.

    By now, of course, the 16-year olds are probably directing their own risque transgender movies...

    March 27, 2008

  • Well, you see, c_b, the females become males and the males become females (bilby didn't include that part in the excerpt). So it all works out. ;->

    Sionnach, here in the States we had a "Condemned" list of films that were not, under any circumstances, to be seen by good Catholics. Last Tango in Paris was definitely one of them, but so was Valley of the Dolls--which I never did understand as a child, since it was only about toys anyway.

    Right? Wasn't it?

    March 27, 2008

  • I always interpreted "Last Tango" as a glorified infomercial for the National Dairy Council.

    March 27, 2008

  • Heehee.

    March 27, 2008

  • I still don't get it. You have a couple of parents who have only girls. So the eldest, or one of them at any rate, becomes a sworn virgin and "male" at least in terms of society, so that she/he can inherit. Reesetee, you're telling me that in a similar situation, a family with all male children will make one of them become female--socially--and then, presumably, the sworn virgin who is now socially male can have a child with the ... whatever ... who is now socially female?

    Or are you just yanking my chain? Were you aware that's an abomination?

    At any rate, how could the sworn virgin then have children who would then inherit, if said sworn virgin must be, you know, a sworn virgin?

    Like other words and phrases, sworn virgin looks really weird if you stare at it too long.

    March 27, 2008

  • So, is this like a kind of reverse-berdache phenomenon?

    March 27, 2008

  • Of all the pages on which to see a Google (image) ad. for a site called

    March 27, 2008

  • I was indeed yanking your chain, c_b. And it is an abomination. Plus you're making my head hurt. ;-)

    Unless you're talking about a swearing virgin. Then everything's different.

    March 27, 2008