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margarin

n.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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