In Greek mythology, Hymen was a young Athenian man who disguised himself as a woman, got kidnapped by pirates, helped free himself and some actual women, and then married one of those women. The Athenians considered this such a good marriage that he became worshipped as a god of matrimony, often depicted holding a torch and veil. Historically, many people have linked this god to the homonymous vaginal membrane, but that's not exactly true. The body part was a term in medical Latin since around the middle of the sixteenth century, and before that it was from an Ancient Greek word meaning "to sew" or "bind". However, the god's name apparently influenced the spelling of the noun through folk etymology, which is why they look so similar to us. Finally, it all goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root syu, also "to sow".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.