So what if it’s the most common? Being common doesn’t make something idiomatic. — Ungoliant(falai) 17:38, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Just to point out, virgin (if it is to be considered an adjective) is only used attributively in all of its definitions. So the lack of "forests are virgin" means nothing. --WikiTiki89 17:41, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
In addition to its 7 senses & subsenses of the noun, MWOnline has 9 senses and subsenses of virgin as adjective as follows:
"free of impurity or stain : unsullied
characteristic of or befitting a virgin : modest
fresh, unspoiled; specifically : not altered by human activity <a virgin forest>
a (1): being used or worked for the first time (2) of a metal : produced directly from ore by primary smelting
b: initial, first
of a vegetable oil : obtained from the first light pressing and without heating
containing no alcohol <a virgin daiquiri>"
Colins's 8 adjective defs are
"of, relating to, resembling, suitable for, or characteristic of a virgin or virgins; chaste
pure and natural, uncorrupted, unsullied, or untouched ⇒ "virgin purity"
not yet cultivated, explored, exploited, etc, by man ⇒ "virgin territories"
being the first or happening for the first time
(of vegetable oils) obtained directly by the first pressing of fruits, leaves, or seeds of plants without applying heat
(of a metal) made from an ore rather than from scrap
occurring naturally in a pure and uncombined form ⇒ "virgin silver"
(physics) (of a neutron) not having experienced a collision"
It's definition if virgin forest is: "a forest in its natural state, before it has been explored or exploited by man".
To me MW's and Collins's underlined sense of virgin completely covers the use of virgin in virgin forest as well as with other collocates such as "prairie", "timber", "timberland", "snow", "coral", and "ecosystem", just to mention those that I thought of off the top of my head (apparent attestability confirmed at Books). Collins inclusion of virgin forest seems to show that they have a policy of including very common non-idiomatic collocations. We could have such a policy, but we don't, so I expect DanP to propose a vote. DCDuringTALK 19:50, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Delete that, too, and createsecond-growth. In addition to s-g forest there are s-g wine, bordeaux, phenomena, symptoms, log cabin, doug fir, structure, riparian, fund, logging, tropical forest, Tsuga canadensis, potato, stand, curve, cypress… --Hekaheka (talk) 00:35, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Delete, transparent SOP for a sense of "virgin" that we now have (although it could be expanded to indicate that it refers to an object or place, which would also apply to the virgin prairie and the virgin meadow). bd2412T 03:17, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Strong Keep regardless of whether the new sense of virgin is created or not. The meaning of the word "virgin" is ambiguous, and the meaning of the word "virgin" in the context of "virgin forest" is not the most common meaning Purplebackpack89(Notes Taken)(Locker) 16:15, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Has that ever been a criterion for keeping? --WikiTiki89 16:47, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
User:Wikitiki89, Maybe not in those words, but something akin to that. There aren't "criteria for keeping" per se, only criteria for deleting. Ungoliant's deletion rationale is essentially SOP. I believe that SOP shouldn't be applied in situations where one or more of the words is ambiguous. There have been similar instances where words have been kept. Purplebackpack89(Notes Taken)(Locker) 18:55, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but you have that backward. There are criteria for keeping, which are conveniently documented at a page called Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion. (If you'd like to create a redirect thither from Wiktionary:Criteria for keeping, please be my guest.) The criteria for deletion are mostly either direct consequences of the criteria for keeping (if something doesn't meet the latter, then it meets the former) or clarifications of said. —RuakhTALK 02:05, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
And in this case, it's your deletion rationale that is COMPLETELY illogical. The vote delete and the rationale you made doesn't come to the conclusion of SOP, or of anything else approaching deletion. Purplebackpack89(Notes Taken)(Locker) 21:31, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
You said "I believe that SOP shouldn't be applied in situations where one or more of the words is ambiguous." Equinox showed that it isn't ambiguous in any way that makes sense, and you responded by saying "Isn't your rationale one that would bespeak KEEPING it, though?" Chuck Entz (talk) 20:43, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Adjective sense 2. bd2412T 22:06, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
@Purplebackpack89: Even if we didn't have a suitable definition a term such as virgin, that would not mean that there is no English definition for the term that would meet WT:ELE. IOW, a missing definition is usually at least as good a reason to add the missing definition as to justify keeping a term that is not SoP only because Wiktionary is still a work in progress, incomplete even its coverage of English.
In this case we know that there are definitions that other dictionaries think cover virgin in virgin forest, with which opinion I agree. DCDuringTALK 00:05, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Keep although largely SOP, it's a phrase which is used as a whole, and has taken on its own specific meaning and usage history (e.g. it is now somewhat dated and old-growth forest is preferred). It has also appears to have produced terms such as "virgin timber" (which doesn't appear to fit any of the current definitions at virgin, though that may just be a problem with the definitions). Virgin forest has a fairly precise definition and a bunch of forest-specific synonyms. If those synonyms were at virgin it would just be listed as, (of a forest): old-growth, primary, primeval, late seral, or they'd be randomly mixed in with another definition's quite confusingly. It makes more sense for it to have its own entry. Pengo (talk) 02:55, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Actually, virgin forest seems to have two slightly different definitions: an older, more romantic meaning of "unexplored and untouched" (akin to virgin territories or virgin snow) and a more modern one meaning simply "old-growth" (mature ecosystem, unharvested). (I'd speculate that the confusion from the shift of meaning is why "old-growth" is now preferred over "virgin forest") Although you could guess these meanings from the definitions at virgin, I don't think the reader should have to. Pengo (talk) 03:14, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Would these definitions apply in the same way to other types of land (prairies, plains, jungles, meadows, deserts, etc.)? bd2412T 14:27, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
@BD2412: In principle they should (though perhaps not for "deserts"). I'd be reasonably certain for prairies, plains, tundra, and other environments characteristic of English speaking North America; for hypernyms like land(s), expanse(s), etc; less so for more modern, semi-technical terms like ecosystem and environment. Do you need attested confirmation or will multiple native-speaker opinions suffice?
@Pengo: I think the usage of both is more common for forests because forests are/were relatively common in the climes where English is spoken, especially the "virgin" forests in North America and southern ANZ. The usage of "virgin" increasingly seems silly as it was usually used in a Euro-centric way, ignoring the previous, less intensive use by indigenous cultures, which nevertheless would have violated the "virginity" of the forest or other environment. To capture this aspect we would redefine virgin with a definition more like "unraped by European cultures", though this certainly seems a bit tendentious, whatever one thinks of its accuracy.
Old-growth is a reflection of the fact that in much of eastern North America, what was farmland 100-300 years ago is now covered by mature or nearly mature forests. DCDuringTALK 15:47, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
@BD2412: I'd agree applying virgin to other land-types or ecosystems would be SOP and would be similar to the more traditional meaning of virgin forest (the Euro-centric virgin territory meaning). However, to my knowledge, the more modern/technical definition of virgin forest ("unharvested mature ecosystem" or "old-growth") does not apply for any other land types — possibly because other ecosystems don't take as long to reach maturity, or have been simply ignored (@DCDuring: It's not only that forests were relatively common. Their "virgin" status was and is also far more noticeable. E.g. Australian native-grass ecosystems were trampled by livestock and displaced by European grasses without anyone much noticing the loss of "virgin grasslands". However, with Regnans living well over 500 years, European settlement in Australia has not been long enough for any harvested late-mature trees to have ever been replaced. I generally agree with your comments though). Perhaps shaky evidence, but I noticed the phrase "new virgin forest" can be found (albeit rarely) to refer to one that has been "produced" or "planted", but "new virgin plains" refers only to plains which are newly discovered. Pengo (talk) 01:01, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't see how this would be inapplicable to other biomes that could be revirginized in the same way; if anything, this calls for a subsense at virgin. bd2412T 03:16, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
Keep: I agree that this phrase is used as a whole, I think it's not built from virgin + forest each time it's used. In other words, it belongs to the vocabulary of English. Lmaltier (talk) 21:19, 28 April 2014 (UTC)