Cholesterol is an organic molecule which nobody is fond of. Too much is bad, too little annoying. However, the etymology of it is definitely something to appreciate. My sources agree that it comes from French, but vary on exactly what word it was. One larger faction claims that it can be traced to cholesterin, from the earlier word cholestrine. However, two of my resources affirm that it derives from its cognate cholesterol. In any case, this linguistic confusion is pointless, since both (French) variations come from Greek, and the portmanteau kholesteros, or "stiff bile". This is a combination first incorporating the word khole, meaning "bile". This derives from kholoazein, or "green" (since bile is sometimes greenish), which came from kholoros "pale green", possibly coming from a Proto-Indo-European term meaning "shout". Khole also is the etymon of "cholera" and the name "Chloe", not to offend anyone. The second part of the aforementioned Greek word is stereos, which meant "firm". This can be followed back to PIE as well, and the root ster, which is the forefather of "sterility" and meant "strong, firm, or stiff". Now you can see that cholesterol once meant "stiff bile", you can go back to loathing it with reinforced hate!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.