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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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Historical Examples
  • margarin (pages 16 and 112) is in general spelled margarine, it has been retained in this book for reasons of authenticity.

    Food Poisoning Edwin Oakes Jordan
  • Consequently the margarin output of Germany doubled in the five years preceding the war and the output of England tripled.

    Creative Chemistry Edwin E. Slosson
  • In the attempt to cheapen as far as possible the preparation of margarin various plant oils have been added by the manufacturers.

    Food Poisoning Edwin Oakes Jordan
  • If margarin is altogether substituted for butter, the necessary vitamines may be sufficiently provided by milk, eggs and greens.

    Creative Chemistry Edwin E. Slosson
  • The milk used for either butter or margarin should be free or freed from disease germs.

    Creative Chemistry Edwin E. Slosson

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