1. Biochemistry. a soft, yellow powder of simple proteins obtained from corn, used chiefly in the manufacture of textile fibers, plastics, and paper coatings.
  2. a synthetic fiber produced from this protein.

Origin of zein

1815–25; < New Latin Ze(a) the maize genus (Latin: emmer < Greek zeiá barley, wheat; cognate with Sanskrit yáva grain) + -in2
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British Dictionary definitions for zein


  1. a protein of the prolamine group occurring in maize and used in the manufacture of plastics, paper coatings, adhesives, etc

Word Origin for zein

C19: from New Latin zēa maize, from Latin: a kind of grain, from Greek zeia barley
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 zein

1822, from zea, Late Latin name for "spelt," from Greek zeia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper