1836, from French margarine, a chemical term given to a fatty substance obtained from animal and vegetable oil, coined by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889) in 1813 from (acide) margarique "margaric (acid);" literally "pearly," from Greek margarites "pearl" (see Margaret). So called for the luster of the crystals. Now discarded in this sense as a chemical term, but preserved in margarine.

Nearby words

  1. margaret of scotland,
  2. margaret of valois,
  3. margaret rose,
  4. margaric,
  5. margaric acid,
  6. margarine,
  7. margarita,
  8. margaritaceous,
  9. margarite,
  10. margate

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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