In 1869, French scientist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès invented a butter substitute as part of a contest to make cheap spread for soldiers. He called it oleomargarine, which meant "margarine oil" (margarine then referred to a type of fatty acid), but then people decided that was too lengthy and dropped the oleo- prefix. When that was brought to the United States in 1873, the name stuck, peaking in usage in 1982. The term margarine acid was coined in 1813 by another French chemist, Michel Eugène Chevreul, who named it after the Greek word for "pearl", margarites, because the acid was judged to have a pearly luster. Margarites, the etymon of the name Margaret, has an unknown origin but is thought to ultimately derive from Iranian, because of cognates in Middle Persian, Avestan, and Sogdian
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior 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.