• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. Biochemistry. any of a group of phospholipids, occurring in animal and plant tissues and egg yolk, composed of units of choline, phosphoric acid, fatty acids, and glycerol.
  2. a commercial form of this substance, obtained chiefly from soybeans, corn, and egg yolk, used in foods, cosmetics, and inks.

Origin of lecithin

1860–65; < Greek lékith(os) egg yolk + -in2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lecithin

Historical Examples

  • These acids are the electrolytic division products of lecithin.

    Valere Aude

    Louis Dechmann

  • One of the substances contained in bile, lecithin, is of wide importance.

    Valere Aude

    Louis Dechmann

  • This is clearly shown in the case of lecithin, which serves to control both motion and sensation.

    Valere Aude

    Louis Dechmann

  • In new-born animals a third or more of this fat consists of lecithin.

  • Another consideration to bear in mind is that the nerves need fat wherewith to build up the lecithin.

British Dictionary definitions for lecithin


  1. biochem any of a group of phospholipids that are found in many plant and animal tissues, esp egg yolk: used in making candles, cosmetics, and inks, and as an emulsifier and stabilizer in foods (E322)Systematic name: phosphatidylcholine

Word Origin

C19: from Greek lekithos egg yolk
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 lecithin


fatty substance found in the yolks of eggs (among other places), 1861, from French lécithine (coined 1850 by N.T. Gobley), from Greek lekithos "egg yolk," + chemical suffix -ine (2). Greek lekithos is of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lecithin in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. Any of a group of phospholipids that on hydrolysis yield two fatty acid molecules and a molecule each of glycerophosphoric acid and choline. They are found in nervous tissue, especially myelin sheaths and egg yolk, and in the plasma membrane of plant and animal cells.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

lecithin in Science


  1. A fatty substance present in most plant and animal tissues that is an important structural part of cell membranes, particularly in nervous tissue. It consists of a mixture of diglycerides of fatty acids (especially linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and oleic acid) linked to a phosphoric acid ester. Lecithin is used commercially in foods, cosmetics, paints, and plastics for its ability to form emulsions.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • About
  • Cookies, Terms, & Privacy
© 2018 Dictionary.com, LLC.